From email@example.com Wed Mar 8 08:20:56 2000
Maquila workers face loss of health care
From Labor Alerts, 5 March 2000
In this alert:
MAQUILA WORKERS FACE LOSS OF HEALTH CARE
[Information provided by CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador: (212) 229-1290, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <www.cispes.org>]
Maquila workers and many others in El Salvador - the majority of the population - face the loss of their constitutionally guaranteed right to health care.
The Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS), which provides health care to public and private full-time workers and their dependants, is under threat of privatization. The Salvadoran government plans to sell the ISSS, in accordance with conditions of a "modernization loan" from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The IDB holds much of Latin America's loan debt.
Privatization in El Salvador, as elsewhere in the global south, means a major increase in cost and a major decrease in service. Considering that even the most decent wage jobs in El Salvador do not cover basic needs for a family, the privatization of health care would mean that the majority of the country would have no access to such care.
The Union of Working Doctors of the Social Security Institute (SIMETRISSS) and the Union of Social Security Workers (STISSS) have been on strike since November 15 to defend public health care and to oppose union-busting in El Salvador's public sector.
In response, President Francisco Flores has declared a state of emergency and has called in riot police and units of the special police forces to station tanks in front of the Social Security office and attack striking workers and doctors.
Flores plans to use final-year medical students and green cross workers as strike breakers and to move health care deliver to police and military posts.
Workers of the National Health System (which provides health care to campesinos and those not formally employed) shut down over ten national hospitals in solidarity with the Social Security health workers. Many of the hospitals were militarized, but workers took three of them back over. Communities throughout El Salvador are mobilizing with rallies and marches.
The health care unions have asked individuals - and especially organizations - around the world to sign a paid newspaper ad to President Flores. If you or your organization would like to be listed in the ad, please send the following three lines of information (not this entire alert!) to Campaign for Labor Rights by email <CLR@igc.org> or fax (541) 431-0523 before March 8:
Signing on to the ad in El Salvador.
Contributions to help cover the cost of the ad (suggested donation: $5) should be payable to "CISPES Education Fund" with a notation in the memo section "paid ad." Mail checks to CISPES, 19 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10010. Contributions in excess of the cost of the ad will go to the workers' strike fund.
The ad includes the following two letters, one to the President of El Salvador, the other to the striking workers. Final text (in Spanish) may differ slightly.
LETTER TO PRESIDENT FLORES:
March 10, 2000
Dear President Flores:
We, the undersigned, are very concerned about the current social and economic situation in El Salvador. We have particular concerns about your government's plans to privatize the public health care system despite 100% opposition from the health care union workers and 78% of the Salvadoran population. Privatization of health care will make it inaccessible to the majority of the population, thereby violating their Constitutional right to quality health care. It is deplorable that 221 unionized health care workers from the STISSS union have been fired and have not received their year-end bonus pay as punishment for exercising their right to organize, protest and strike in defense of the right to health care.
It is equally deplorable that the strike was ruled illegal and the firings legal. We understand the difference between the law and justice and support the workers struggle for justice. We encourage you, as President of the Republic, to be just and use your authority to initiate negotiations with the striking workers and to ensure the re-hiring of the striking workers.
As citizens of the US, Canada and around the world, we are concerned about the conditions in El Salvador and the lives of the Salvadoran people and request that you do what you can to ensure the following:
- An end to all aggressive actions against striking workers - Negotiations between the workers and their employer (your government) - Job stability for public sector workers - Re-hiring of the 221 health workers with full pay - An end to all plans of privatization of public services
We greatly appreciate your attention to our concerns and the demands of the STISSS and SIMETRESSS, which we fully support.
LETTER TO THE STRIKING WORKERS:
Dear brothers and sisters, fellow workers of El Salvador
We, the undersigned, express our most heartfelt solidarity with the workers of STISSS and SIMETRISSS, and to the population of El Salvador. We stand with you in your struggle for workers rights, health care for all and an end to privatization. We are outraged at the president's refusal to negotiate, the firing of striking workers and the use of physical assault on strikers.
Like you, we face numerous attempts at privatization and attacks on human rights, the rights of unions and working people. We commit to supporting your struggle, recognizing that it is an international struggle and a just struggle.
People around the world join in your struggle to place human needs before corporate profit.
Long live the workers of El Salvador! Long live international labor solidarity! Health care for all!
UPDATE ON DOALL WORKERS
[Information provided by the National Labor Committee: (212) 242-3002, <email@example.com>, <www.nlcnet.org>]
Thirty workers at the DoAll Enterprises factory in El Salvador - which produces clothing for Liz Claiborne - won their reinstatement in mid-February. They were illegally fired for organizing a union at the end of November. After three months of standing firm and demanding their rights, they won their jobs back with back pay and a promise from management to respect the union.
The struggle is not over at DoAll. Thanks to all those who pressured Liz Claiborne and DoAll to do the right thing. Look for more action alerts in the future if the workers again call for international solidarity.
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