Pandemic and trade unionism in Latin America

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The current scenario which passes through Latin America is critical, the Covid-19 Pandemic is the plague that we lacked.

To the growing inequalities, economic concentration, the role of the hegemonic media, and the lack of freedom of association, the health situation was added. In a continent where the health system left much to be desired, in terms of being prepared to a catastrophe of such magnitude.

Although it is true that no country called for the health emergency, the speed of response and the resources available by the State show the results.

Using the ECLAC (United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) report entitled “Addressing the growing impact of COVID-19 with a view to reactivation with equality: New projections”, of July 2020, the following keywords stand out:

Economic activity in the world is falling by more than what was foreseen several months ago as a result of the crisis stemming from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and this increases negative external effects on Latin America and the Caribbean through trade channels, the terms of trade, tourism and remittances.

In addition, the region is currently at the epicenter of the pandemic, and while some governments have begun to lift measures to contain its spread, others have had to keep them in place or even redouble them due to the persistent daily uptick in cases.

Since both external and domestic shocks have intensified, the region will experience a -9.1% fall in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020.

It is expected that the regional unemployment rate will be around 13.5% by the end of 2020, which represents an upward revision (2 percentage points) of the estimate presented in April and a 5.4 percentage point increase versus 2019 (8.1%).

ECLAC forecasts that the number of people living in poverty will rise by 45.4 million in 2020, which means that the total number of people in that situation will go from 185.5 million in 2019 to 230.9 million people in 2020 – a figure that represents 37.3% of Latin America’s population.

Countries in the region have announced major packages of fiscal measures to confront the health emergency and mitigate its social and economic effects.

National efforts must be supported by international cooperation to expand policy space through increased financing under favorable conditions and debt relief. Likewise, making progress on equality is crucial for effectively controlling the pandemic and for a sustainable economic recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The figures speak for themselves, the crisis is inexorable and the impact on those who have the least is significant, the output of this in the short term is obviously falling wages and strong job insecurity.

In various countries of the continent, reform projects to the pension-system are envisaged, most of them are attempts to lower them and punish those who have contributed a lifetime, thereby the National States are forgetting their responsibility in managing the public funds and more precisely the large sums we contribute every month.

The Health System must be analyzed and modified profoundly, it has not responded with the efficiency that is required in the face of a Pandemic. It is needed for inclusive public policies on health to be implemented.

Another issue to be analyzed is Teleworking, which we think has to be regulated and has to consider the rights of workers to be able to accept it or not, recognize connection-costs, provide adequate equipment, digital disconnection etc.

In summary, workers must be more united than ever since employers take advantage of the opportunity to try to curtail rights and that the crisis, as always, is paid by the workers.


About WOW

WOW was founded as a Social Christian trade union and finds inspiration in the spiritual believe that man and universe were created by God or by persuasions coinciding with that. The increase of intercultural contacts provided opportunities for the WOW to expand and broaden its view with visions of other religious backgrounds. WOW does so in a joint attempt to build a world community based on freedom, dignity, justice and solidarity.

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