History

From the Vaults: New York Times, April 14, 1988

Starvation salaries paid to workers, real wages cut, collective bargaining banned, socialists denounced, strikes made illegal, strikers sacked, and labor organizers shot dead by government agents. Yes, you’ve guessed where: it all took place in Nicaragua under the Marxist inspired Sandinista regime:

Leftists Defy Sandinistas As Labor Strife Hits Peak

Stephen Kinzer

New York Times, April 14, 1988, p.A1.

… labor conflict in Managua is reaching  its highest level since the 1979 revolution.

Several thousand workers are on strike, demanding that their wages be raised to a level equivalent to what they enjoyed before this year, when a new currency was introduced and the buying power of wages dropped sharply….

As a result the Nicaraguan Government, itself inspired by Marxist principles, finds itself confronting Marxist trade unions.

In the most visible confrontation, the Marxist-led construction workers’ union, one of the country’s oldest and most combative labor organizations, has been on strike for more than seven weeks.

Union officials say that at least 4,000 construction workers are on strike. The Government puts the figure at only 500. It has declared the strikes illegal and told all the strikers they are dismissed….

In February and March, several meetings of strikers, in Managua and elsewhere, were broken up by Sandinistas. On March 8, one confrontation left two labourer organizers dead.

The organizers, a man and a woman, were among a group of Communist protestors marching to a meeting in the rural part of Matagalpa Province. According to Communist Party leaders and others, the marchers were stopped by a Sandinista patrol and ordered to turn back. When they ignored  the order, a member of the patrol opened fire….

President Daniel Ortega Saavedra has denounced Nicaragua’s Marxist parties and trade unions as “false revolutionaries” and “so-called Communists.” In a recent speech, he said he expected rightist groups to oppose his Government, but could not accept Communists and Socialists who act as “servile lackies of the bourgeoisie and American Imperialism.” ….

Wages and prices are strictly controlled by the Government, and collective bargaining between unions and management is illegal…. Carlos Salgado, who heads the Socialist party’s trade union federation [said] “…. People just cannot afford to eat, and even Marxist workers will not tolerate that.” ….

Under the new wage structure imposed in February, [Rene Turcios, a construction assistant,] is to earn 26 cordobas a day, which on the black market is equivalent of about 40 cents.

A worker’s lunch costs 30 cordobas, a pack of filter cigarettes is 39, and an inexpensive pair of shoes at least 400.

“It’s a question of starving on strike or starving on the job,” Mr. Turcios said… “You absolutely can’t live on that salary.” ….

“We are now in an alliance that includes the Conservative Party, the most reactionary party in this country,” said the Socialist Party leader, Domingo Sanchez Salgado, perhaps the country’s best-known trade union figure. “We can live with that alliance because it is based on mutual respect. The Sandinistas do not respect. They only dictate and expect instant obedience.”

Update:

I have just noticed the full article is freely available on line.

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