Colombia Workers Set for National Strike April 28

Colombia Workers Set for National Strike April 28

Workers and their unions in Colombia will hold a national strike April 28 to protest a tax hike proposed by President Iván Duque that would increase costs for workers already struggling from lost jobs and income from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Union leaders say the tax plan is misleadingly labeled a “Sustainable Solidarity Law” and instead would raise taxes on fuel and electricity and greatly expand the number of people required to pay additional taxes. The plan also would increase taxes on produce, harming both farmers and consumers.

It is a “tax reform that disguises itself as solidarity, ” says Unitary Workers Center (CUT) President Francisco Maltés.

Unions across Colombia have joined in solidarity to hold the 24-hour strike as part of a Unified National Command (Comando Nacional Unitario) comprised of the CUT; the General Confederation of Workers (CGT); the Workers Confederation of Colombia (CTC) the Education Workers Federation (FECODE); and the Confederations of Pensioned workers (CPC and CDP).

Tax Big Business, Not Working Families

In an 11-point set of demands, unions say the government should establish tax reform based on progressive taxation so those who earn more pay more. Unions also say taxes should be lowered for small and medium businesses while increased for big business, including multinationals. Further, tax evasion should be effectively punished and taxes increased on large land

Colombian workers have been especially hard-hit during the pandemic. Unemployment is at a record 20 percent, with more than 5 million people losing their jobs.

Women in Colombia, as around the world, have been disproportionately affected. Between September 2019 and September 2020, for every man who lost his job, 2.2 women did so, nationally. In smaller cities, for every eight women who lost their jobs, one man lost his job. Many women work in the informal sector, where nearly half of Colombians make their living as market vendors and domestic workers, who are paid low wages and are not covered job protections like health care.

The pandemic compounded workers’ struggles to make a living and support their families.  In 2019, more than 35 percent of Colombians lived in poverty, and the top 10 percent of the country’s earners received 40 percent of the country’s income, 10 times what the bottom 20 percent earned.

Beginning in November 2019, tens of thousands of workers have taken to the streets to protest the Duque government’s repeated attempts to hike prices and reward corporations with tax cuts.

Thousands of Morocco Public Employees Wage Strike

Thousands of Morocco Public Employees Wage Strike

Thousands of public-sector employees rallied and marched as part of a national strike yesterday in which workers in local agencies and up to 80 percent in government ministries walked off the job. Workers seek to draw attention to the unwillingness of the government to negotiate with them on such issues as wages and retirement.

The strike, held on International Human Rights Day, aimed to “defend the gains of retirement for workers, trade union freedoms, rights and dignity,” according to a joint statement by the four unions that called for the action.

Members of the Moroccan Labor Union (Union Marocaine du travail), the Democratic Confederation for Labor (Confédération démocratique du travail), the General Union of Moroccan Workers (Union Generale des Travailleurs du Maroc) and the Democratic Federation for Labor (Fédération démocratique du travail) also denounced the government’s unilateral decisions in the absence of social dialogue and the unilateral approach for the retirement reform.

Union members have sought enforcement of an agreement made in April 2011 with the previous government that improved civil servants’ salaries, boosted the minimum pension and promoted union freedom. The national strike follows a November 29 action in which tens of thousands of workers from all four unions rallied and marched to call attention to how the government’s inaction has eroded their ability to support their families. Workers also took part in a month of protest in May, and say they are planning another national strike in coming weeks.

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