Hunger strike marks growing tension between unions and government

Blogpost

Staff of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office verify the state of health of workers on hunger strike.

After being fired without prior notification, a group of workers from the Salvadoran Congress began a hunger strike on May 17, with the accompaniment of the Legislative Assembly Workers' Union (SITRAL).

This drastic measure aims to denounce the violation of labor rights and to demand job stability, and the application of the law related to contract termination with the Legislative Assembly, since they have been blocked from entering their jobs without having received any formal communication about their dismissal or contract termination.

The strike has been supported by several popular social movement organizations, which have carried out a series of solidarity actions to express their support and motivate the workers to carry on the struggle; but to date, no dialogue mechanism has been established with the president of the Legislative Assembly and the strikers.

This raises concern because, as the days go by, the situation becomes more complicated for the hunger strikers: two have required emergency transfers to assistance centers due to health complications caused by the hunger strike.

In that sense, a member of SITRAL, who has requested anonymity, stated that “despite the fact that they have repeatedly sought a meeting with the president of the Legislative Assembly Ernesto Castro, he has not wanted dialogue to resolve the conflict, therefore the strike action becomes indefinite. We cannot let so many years of work go to waste, we are facing the inability to feed our families at the moment, so we do not care to endure hunger in this strike, because we are still going to endure hunger later when we do not find work."

The more than one hundred employees dismissed from the Legislative Assembly are added to the thousands of dismissals from mayors’ offices and from within the Executive Branch, executed since mid-2019. This has led to precarious living conditions for many people who have lost their jobs due to their political positions or because they are not from the ruling party.

This situation is aggravated by the stress being placed on many unions, due to government blockades that endanger their legality, including delayed delivery of updated credentials for the union’s boards of directors, without which they cannot negotiate the defense of their rights, labor rights with the employer, or claim union jurisdiction in the event of suspensions or dismissals. Like the dismissals, the government's actions against the unions are especially directed at those unions critical of the current administration.

 

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