From Thu Sep 9 10:15:08 2004
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 11:02:54 -0500 (CDT)
From: Kathy <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 189980
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

25% Rise in Living Costs; FNT Calls for Emergency Meeting

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 7 September 2004

Dr. Gustavo Porras, General Secretary of the National Workers Front (FNT) called on the government to re-convene the National Minimum Wage Commission. While acknowledging that the commission had met in June, Porras declared that the recent massive rise in prices in basic goods had already more than offset the 8.3% increase which was agreed at that time. Independent economists are telling us that, overall, prices have rocketed by 10%, he said. But when you examine the pattern of those increases, it becomes obvious that they fall disproportionately on the goods and services that make up the essential needs of any family. In consequence, that 10%, already serious enough in its own right, actually translates into a 25% rise in basic living costs. There's no way the original raise can even begin to meet these new costs. We're calling on the government commission to meet with us again—despite the timing—and indeed, not only to discuss the minimum wage but rather workers' wages across the board.

Other union leaders joined Porras in warning that unless serious action was taken and taken soon, they would have no choice but to resort to industrial action. Already there will be a protest gathering outside the National Assembly this very week, demanding the passage of the Municipal Employee Career Law, said one. In October, we are orchestrating a great 'March for the Budgetary Struggle.' It will bring the health, teaching, local government and other sectors together. We have to find some way of restoring the people's buying power.

Porras, who also leads FETSALUD, the health service union, went on to announce the first of what he called, Open Door Protests. Just so that people can see for themselves how disgraceful the current situation is, we're inviting patients' families to come into the hospitals and health centers and to stay with their loved ones. We're going to give everyone that needs them examination orders and prescriptions. Open all the doors. In this way, people will see and experience at first hand just how desperate the situation is: not enough doctors, few or no medicines, over-crowding. In this way, we hope they'll understand that there is really no health care system to speak of, and that, far from not wanting to take care of their patients, the workers are themselves suffering.