Hundreds of workers march in Ecuador for public healthcare, pensions

Quito, Jan 19 (EFE).- Hundreds of workers marched on Thursday through the streets of downtown Quito to defend the public model of Ecuador’s social security system, demand the departure of its top managers and protest against the commission formed by the government to evaluate the system.

The demonstration, called by the United Workers’ Front Union (FUT), the largest trade union center in the country, began in front of the headquarters of the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) and moved to the historic center of the capital.

The protesters expressed their rejection of the government’s intentions to reform the IESS with the aim of providing it with greater sustainability and financial stability.

The president of the FUT, Marcela Arellano, said in a statement “that the IESS cannot be sold, that the IESS belongs to the workers” and augured that the commission set up by the government would violate workers’ rights.

This citizens’ commission, led by economist Augusto De la Torre, is tasked with presenting a reform proposal in a period of four months and has the technical support of international institutions, including the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Labor Organization.

Trade unions and civil society organizations fear that the reform will include the privatization of public healthcare services and pension funds.

Currently, there is no private pension system in Ecuador so every worker contributes to the IESS, which is responsible for managing both social security and pensions for retired people.

The vice president of the FUT, José Villavicencio, said that the commission sought to “implement a neoliberal policy, increasing years of contributions and reducing retirement pensions.”

Villavicencio also demanded that the government pay off the multi-million dollar historical debt it has with the IESS.

In turn, the president of the Confederation of Unitary Class Organizations of Workers (Cedocut), Mesías Tatamuez, accused the government of wanting to privatize the IESS with a citizen commission created “behind the members’ backs” and, according to him, made up of by people affiliated to the International Monetary Fund.

“We are not going to approach those from the IMF. We are going to approach the people, the members, and we are going to create our own technical commission to defend insurance and to charge the government,” he added. EFE


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