Chanting, “No to Labor Code rollbacks, no to human rights rollbacks,”100 workers today marched on the Business Tower in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, to oppose corporate-backed attempts to weaken labor code protections for working women and men.
The Inter-Union Committee of Working Women (CIMTRA) organized the rally on the eve of International Women’s Day to highlight how business’s proposed changes would especially harm working women.
The Business Tower is headquarters of the National Council for Private Enterprise (CONEP). Unionists say CONEP is promoting a labor reform proposal that would drastically reduce existing labor rights. President Danilo Medina formed a commission to review and modernize the Labor Code last fall, and business and unions have both submitted proposals.
Eulogia Famila, CIMTRA spokeswoman and vice president of the National Confederation of Union Unity, addressed the crowd from the steps of the Business Tower.
“While the proposal from private enterprise would roll back rights for all workers, it’s particularly damaging to women,” Famila said. “It would exclude domestic workers from most labor rights and would allow the termination of contracts with pregnant women by ‘mutual consent’ without prior approval from the Labor Ministry. By putting the burden of proof on a worker filing a complaint against an employer, it would make it even more difficult for women to sue over discrimination and harassment.”
The business council refused to receive representatives from the group, even though workers had tried to make an appointment to present the council with a four-page letter from CIMTRA and the three main labor confederations.
“Today we mobilized women and youth to commemorate International Women’s Day and to oppose business efforts to roll back labor rights. From here on in, we will join with the three confederations continuing to take to the streets to defend our rights,” Famila said as the rally concluded.