Hundreds of Ecuadorean pensioners from the public sector took to the streets of Quito on Wednesday to demand Lenin Moreno’s government pay their severance pensions that have been in default since 2008.
Lenin Moreno's 'Social Deal' Could Raise Retirement Age to 70
"It is preferable to die fighting than to go begging," the coordinator of the Federation of Retirees of Ecuador, Galo Bacca, said while announcing that the affected retired teachers and health workers will go on a nationwide hunger strike starting on May 22.
The mobilization began at 09:00 local time starting from the main streets of Quito to the vicinity of the National Assembly (AN). Among the demands of the 30,000 retirees are the full payment of severance pensions, and to request the AN impeach the Minister of Economy and Finance, Richard Martinez, for violation of their rights. The debt currently rests at US$350 million.
"We are in Quito this day to demand that the president of the Republic pay us in cash and not in state bonds," the representative of the Committee of Retirees of Santo Domingo, Vinicio Lara added.
Nearly 30,000 unionized retirees from different organizations demand through their mobilized representatives the payment of their bonuses and pensions, they also request the dismissal of the Minister of Economy.
This latest rally against Moreno comes a month after large sectors of civil society protested neoliberal policies under the chant of “not even one less right.” The movement was a response to Moreno’s structural reforms that are already underway to satisfy the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditionalities for the US$4.2 billion loan.
As part of these measures, the Ecuadorean Social Security Institute (IESS) Board of Directors chairman, Paul Granda, indicated that the 'National Agreement for Social Security' will discuss increases in the retirement age as well as payments for public health care to children under 18 years old.
"[Ecuador's] retirement age is 60. The average age in Latin America is 65 and [the average is] between 67 and 70 in Europe because life expectancy has risen over there. In Ecuador, men's life expectancy is 80 and women's is 83," Granda said and added that "then, evidently, we have to analyze this issues in such a way that allows us to increase the affiliate's compulsory payments time."
Meanwhile, the first set of labor reforms announced in Ecuador also caused indignation by workers and the protestors. These measures will include extending trial periods for hired workers resulting in instability, flexible labor contracts and extension of five days a week work period.