/** labr.global: 434.0 **/
** Topic: ICFTU On Ecuadorean Gen Strike **
** Written 10:25 PM Feb 8, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
From: Institute for Global Communications <email@example.com>
INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS (ICFTU)
Brussels, February 6, 1997 (ICFTU OnLine): Ecuador's parliament (Congreso) is to meet today at 16.OO pm local time (21.00 GMT) to discuss a petition by 51 deputies to impeach President Abdala Bucaram. The move comes as a national strike called by the Unitarian Workers' Front (FUT) and backed by indigeneous and human rights organisations enters its second day. Trade unions vowed to continue protests until their demands for the withdrawal of the President's austerity package are met.
There has been social unrest in Ecuador, an Andean country of 11.7 million people, since Bucaram's 6 month-old government launched an austerity package this January which contradicts his electoral promises and includes hikes in electricity, telephone and public transport rates. The trade unions are also protesting at Bucaram's plan to dismantle public services and resort to lay-offs primarily targeting union activists.
There has been an overwhelming response to the call for the 48-hour general strike which started yesterday. Banks, factories, shops, financial markets and industry in Quito, the capital, were closed and public transport was paralysed. According to reports, 5 people were injured in Quito and Portoviejo during clashes with police. Eight demonstrators were arrested.
"The general strike will end on Thursday, but the protests will continue until Bucaram is thrown out", a spokesman for the FUT said. The FUT is an umbrella group for all major trade union centres in Ecuador, including the ICFTU-affiliated CEOSL, the country's largest.
While supporting the call by the Patriotic Front (representing most organisations in civil society including unions) for the impeachment and replacement of the President, the FUT has taken its distance from the political grouping, the Popular Front, which is demanding early elections. According to CEOSL, the Popular Front has made a deal with the country's right which is responsible for the present economic crisis.
The situation remained tense in Quito as the government has decreed a "state of mobilisation" allowing it to use troops to maintain order. According to the National Security Law, inherited from the military dicitatorships which ruled the country in the seventies, the president could force Ecuadoreans to go back to work and confiscate their properties.
For details contact ICFTU Press at ++322 224 02 12. Other OnLine news on Poptel Bulletin Board ICFTU-Online for geonet users and on the WWW at:http://www.icftu.org