Paraguay: Police Violence against Finance Ministry Employees

The ITUC has firmly denounced the police’s use of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse civil servants demonstrating for a pay rise in front of the Finance Ministry on 20 August.

"This illegitimate police interference has given rise to serious tensions that could have been avoided," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "We are in fact witnessing a radicalisation by the new government of the repressive measures used against working people."

A tripartite meeting had been held on Monday 20 August between trade unionists from the Finance Ministry, the authorities and the Ministry of Justice and Labour (MJT) but no agreement was reached, leading the civil servants to announce strike action in support of their demand for a pay increase. According to the trade unionists who attended the meeting, the authorities are refusing to negotiate a wage increase. Treasury employees, according to the Finance Ministry, are currently paid the equivalent of 16 minimum wages a year and are asking for their annual pay to be increased to 18 minimum wages.

In a letter sent to the Paraguayan authorities, the ITUC urged President Federico Franco to take every step necessary to resolve the pay increase issue as quickly as possible, underlining its fundamental importance to the workers. The trade unions are simply trying to "dignify the work of civil servants". For the ITUC, this demand is totally legitimate.