MONTEVIDEO – An estimated 30,000 workers from different sectors rallied Thursday in the Uruguayan capital to press their demands for higher salaries and more education spending.
The march, which began at the main campus of the University of the Republic and ended near the Legislative Palace, was organized by Uruguay’s main labor federation, the PIT-CNT, as part of a four-hour partial strike.
PIT-CNT President Fernando Pereira stressed the importance of the job action, telling reporters that workers were calling on the Uruguayan government to make further investments in the education sector.
“Real salaries in the education sector have climbed 70 percent over the past 10 years, and even so teacher salaries are less than $800 a month,” the labor leader said.
“What are we saying? That even with all these changes, more growth is needed in the education sector,” he added.
He said the PIT-CNT was calling for more money for education to ensure the benefits reach all sectors of society.
Pereira, however, stressed that workers were not calling for a return to the “neo-liberal model (in place under conservative governments) between 1990 and 2005,” when he said the lack of three-pronged negotiations among the government, employers and unions was detrimental to workers.
“Neo-liberal” is in Latin America a term used as a slur by leftists to describe advocates of free-market, laissez-faire economic policies.