'We need to launch a powerful and united struggle in defense of our labor rights and in rejection of the anti-worker reactionary policies,' say strike leaders in Peru.
Peru’s largest labor unions have launched a general strike across the country to protest a neoliberal labor law passed last December as part of a month-long campaign and work stoppages against the ‘reforms’ that will reduce workers' rights in the South American country.
On Thursday, workers from the General Confederation of Workers in Peru (CGTP) whose members hail from the construction, healthcare, and manufacturing, among other labor sectors, all went on stike to protest the government’s “National Policy for Productivity and Competitiveness.” Workers from smaller labor federations have also joined the strike, including the United Workers' Confederation (CUT) and CAT.
“Comrades, workers, we need to launch a powerful and united struggle in defense of our labor rights and in rejection of the anti-worker reactionary policies adopted by (President) Martin Vizcarra’s government and the business class,” read the strike notice published on the CGTP’s website.
Congressmember Marco Arana, leader of the leftist-leaning Frente Amplio (FA) party, speaking in front of the legislator this week, said he supports the strike and is calling for fresh presidential elections and a new constitution in response to the administration's labor reform.
Unions say the law will make it easier for employers to fire workers, weaken collective bargaining rights and reduce minimum requirements for paid holidays.
The government has cracked down on previous worker mobilizations against the reforms, declaring June 10 worker strikes "illegal" and said that employees who took would be penalised by their employers. "It is valid [for workers who went on strike] to be sanctioned, suspended or even fired,” stated the government.
Despite threats, the GTP said Wednesday: “This is a struggle of the exploited class against the exploiting class, which the vanguard workers must celebrate because it means the development of class consciousness and the united front that is indispensable in the construction of alternative trade union and popular power.”
Protests are taking place in the southern city of Arequipa, in Loreto, Huancayo, Ayacucho and Apurimac. Strikers have shut down highways leading into and out of the capital of Lima.