On 4 June several thousand people took part in a protest in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo, organised by the umbrella trade union Plenario Intersindical de Trabajadores-Convención Nacional de Trabajadores (PIT-CNT) against a far-reaching reform bill being debated in the senate.
The senate is concluding voting on the so-called Ley de Urgente Consideración (LUC), a 502-article bill containing a gamut of reforms ranging from economic, labour, and education to health, housing, and public security issues. The PIT-CNT called its mobilisation and partial work stoppage to protest in particular against labour reforms, which would make the occupation of workplaces and employer premises during a strike illegal, and public security reforms, which it argues would expose people to police repression.
- Protesters gathered outside the senate, each wearing a face mask and carrying hand sanitiser, with markings on the ground to keep them between 1.5 metres and 2 metres apart. They preserved a minute’s silence for the victims of homicides in recent days, including three marines shot dead while on duty, a football referee, and several victims of domestic abuse.
- The secretary general of the PIT-CNT, Marcelo Abdala, argued that it was inappropriate to be devoting so much time to debating such a comprehensive bill in the midst of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic when “the true emergency is the people” and when “health, economic, and social crises require all sorts of immediate responses”.
- Abdala added that some 200,000 workers faced unemployment and 400,000 informal workers have seen their incomes plunge. The president of the PIT-CNT, Fernando Pereira, warned of “a major [impending] blow to the social fabric” of Uruguay.
The senate approved the LUC in general terms after a 14-hour debate on 3 June in a session that President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou decided to attend. On 7 June the LUC will head to the lower chamber of congress, which will have 30 days to vote on it after which there will be a further 15 days to harmonise any differences between the two bodies. If congress fails to complete this process within these deadlines, the LUC will take effect in its original form.
In brief: Argentina sees historic falls in manufacturing and construction
* Argentina’s national statistics institute (Indec) has published the April figures for manufacturing production and construction activity, which revealed that the fallout of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has led to the largest collapses for both since records began. The industrial production index (EMI) for manufacturing indicated a 33.5% drop compared with the same month in 2019, amounting to the greatest decrease since the EMI was started in 1994, exceeding the previous record 22.3% fall in March 2002 in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in Argentina’s history. The construction activity report (ISAC), meanwhile, showed a 75.6% downturn compared with April 2019, again far worse than the previous record 44.5% reduction in February 2002. The EMI also highlights that only a third of the companies surveyed were able to work as normal in April.