Public-sector workers rally in support of Venezuelan gov’t

Caracas, Aug 16 (EFE).- Hundreds of public-sector workers and government supporters rallied here Tuesday in support of the labor policies of President Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which last week pledged to pay education-sector employees their full annual vacation bonus.

“Here we are, the workers of Venezuela … marching first of all to show appreciation to our brother President Nicolas Maduro for having listened to the list of petitions we delivered to him,” the president of the pro-government union of Caracas Metro workers, Edison Alvarado, told Efe.

He added that, by contrast, the goal of the “unpatriotic right” is to incite the country with the help of some union leaders.

“To those trying to destabilize the country (through protests in recent weeks by public school teachers), we’re responding to them in the street. This mobilization of ours, we going to carry it out nationwide,” Alvarado said.

The director of public policy monitoring at the Urban Agriculture Ministry, Yuri Prieto, told Efe that Tuesday’s demonstration was held to show support for the working class and back Maduro’s policies.

That ministry’s office director, Walkira Zurita, told Efe for her part that Venezuelans’ “social conquests” and demands have been achieved through a collective effort.

“It’s not the opposition. It’s not the empire (the United States) that will dictate this people’s measures and regulations. We’re the ones who govern, along with President Nicolas Maduro,” she added.

The Venezuelan government said last Friday that it will pay 100 percent of education sector workers’ annual vacation bonus, a pending payment that in recent weeks had sparked protests by public school teachers in several cities.

It also urged those employees to enter into a dialogue with the government to resolve the remainder of their demands.

Hundreds of workers in the public health and public education sectors were joined by retirees in a protest last Thursday in Caracas and 16 of Venezuela’s 23 states, a rally in which they demanded respect for their labor rights and the fulfillment of their collective bargaining agreements.

That protest took aim at a National Budget Office (Onapre) directive that would have reduced several public-sector benefits relative to past years, while also criticizing delays in the payment of a yearly vacation bonus that was to have been paid in late July.

Maduro on Monday named Jennifer Quintero to replace Marco Polo Cosenza as Onapre chief. EFE


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