Labor & Workforce

Venezuelan public employees protest for higher pay, pensions

Caracas, Jan 11 (EFE).- Thousands of current and retired public employees marched in this capital Wednesday to demand increases in base salary and pensions that provide only a fraction of what it costs to put food on the table in inflation-wracked Venezuela.

The protesters walked roughly 1 km (0.6 mi) through downtown Caracas to the office of the National Ombud, waving placards and chanting slogans.

“We see that there is an immense gap between pay in the private sector and in the public sector,” Pablo Zambrano, executive secretary of the Fetrasalud health-care workers union, told EFE. “At this moment, pay in the private sector is between $125 and $150 monthly, and in our case the minimum wage is the base and it’s a little more than $6.”

He said that while public employees have no plans to strike, they will continue to mount protests.

“Enough of this policy that seeks simply to pulverize the pay of the workers,” Zambrano said, going on to hail the healthy turnout for Wednesday’s march, which came 48 hours after thousands of teachers mobilized in nearly every one of Venezuela’s 23 state capitals to call for higher pay.

Union leader Luis Cano stressed the plight of retirees whose pensions don’t cover basic expenses.

“It’s very difficult for a Venezuelan employee to go to bed every night and not know what he or she is going to do the next day to be able to eat, to be able to buy medications,” he said.

Cano urged the ostensibly leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro to approve salaries and pensions that allow public employees to live and grow old “with dignity.” EFE gcs/dr

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