MONTEVIDEO – Several thousand Uruguayan workers participated on Wednesday in the first act of a four-hour general strike against the proposed steps to reduce a budget deficit equal to nearly 4 percent of gross domestic product.
The measures, included in a bill that congressional lawmakers began debating on Tuesday, include postponing some types of public spending, a move the unions oppose.
“(This strike) is being called so that social spending in education and in public health will not be postponed from one year to another,” the president of the PIT-CNT labor federation, Fernando Pereira, told the media before the start of a march that moved through downtown Montevideo to the Economy Ministry.
Pereira added that putting off the public spending “is serious” and that the government has to go out and find the money with taxes on assets and on the business returns of the wealthiest Uruguayans.
In addition, the PIT-CNT is asking that cost-of-living adjustments for wage agreements be made annually, and not every two years as the government wants, to ensure that workers’ salaries do not lose purchasing power with inflation running at 11 percent.
The partial strike lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and was staged as the prelude to a 24-hour general strike that the PIT-CNT has called for July 14.
The strike had some effect on the normal functioning of capital transportation services such as taxi operations, as well as on health care services and banking activities, although bus services and other activities along public routes appeared to be operating normally.