LA PAZ – Hundreds of workers marched Monday in La Paz, called to protest by the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) at the beginning of a two-day strike to pose assorted demands to the government, which called the protest a failure.
The COB called workers to strike to protest a ruling by the Constitutional Court facilitating the firing of employees and rejecting the government’s decision to finance agricultural producers with money from the pension funds.
COB leader Guido Mitma told EFE that the forces of labor are in danger, given the fact that the ruling allows easier firing procedures and constitutes a reversal of 36 years of workers’ rights, back to the times of liberalism, adding that the ruling does not abide by the Bolivian Constitution.
The COB march, which was supported by mining unions and the health sector, was staged in downtown La Paz amid the shooting off of fireworks and shouted slogans such as “Courage, comrades, for the struggle is a long one” and “Long live labor stability.”
The minister for coordination with social movements, Alfredo Rada, lamented at a press conference that the COB leadership did not accept the offer to meet on Monday with Bolivian President Evo Morales in exchange for cancelling the 48-hour strike, which he called a “failure.”
“No production sector is going to adhere to that (strike), ... not the miners, the oil workers, the construction workers, the metalworkers, the light and power workers,” he said.
Rada said that the strike would be reduced to “a few marches, and that weakens the COB, it erodes it.”
The COB-led protests will continue on Tuesday and will coincide with marches called by followers of Morales to defend his reelection bid, while the president’s opponents are slated to demonstrate against that possibility.