Amid rising protests, Moreno government lays off thousands in Ecuador
12 March 2019
The government of President Lenin Moreno, besieged by corruption charges, has embarked on an IMF-dictated austerity program entailing mass layoffs that is bringing it into increasingly open confrontation with the Ecuadorian working class.
The first round of layoffs, targeting 10,000 part-time and hourly workers, took effect on March 1. The most affected areas are education and healthcare. Agustín Lindao, leader of the National Union of Public Health MinistryWorkers (Osumtramsa), reported layoffs of “2,500 to 3,500 between casual and temporary contractors, doctors, EMTs, nurses, pharmacy assistants, social workers and operation personnel.”
At least 1,000 workers saw their jobs terminated at the Ministry of Education, 200 of them in Guayas. At the Institute of Social Security (IESS), 500 employees were fired.
The layoffs are the first step by the Moreno government in meeting the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for sweeping austerity measures in return for a $4.5 billion deal signed with the financial agency on February 20.
The total cuts demanded under the agreement amount to 10 percent of the public workforce, or 50,000 jobs.
Last month, thousands of workers marched in the capital of Quito to denounce the threat of massive layoffs bound up with the IMF deal, as well as privatizations and a punishing rise in fuel prices.
The march was followed by a national strike called by the Ecuadorian trade unions on February 13 in the face of mounting anger among the workers.
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