Caracas, August 6th 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — After carrying out a day-long strike affecting an estimated 95% of public transportation in Margarita in Nueva Esparta state, the Nueva Esparta Transport Union agreed to resume work yesterday after an assembly between workers and government representatives.
The strike, which began on at midnight on Sunday, protested a lack of rubber for tires, batteries, and other spare parts for auto maintenance, insecurity, and the creation of a cheaper, government-initiated MetroBus system that currently functions in several districts throughout the city.
Though it managed to shut down most of the city’s public transportation, the MetroBus system continued operations free of charge, prompting state governor Carlos Mato Figueroa, of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), to declare the strike a failure.
“It [the strike] failed because it had no basis,” Figueroa said. “We have sufficient quantities of rubber and battery to meet the needs of this sector.”
He maintained, however, that he planned to integrate MetroBus routes with those of public buses, so that “no one is hurt.”
Proposals considered during the meeting between the government and transportation workers included improved mechanisms for distributing auto parts, along with renovating the buses. José Luis Isase, president of the union, said that the workers had sufficiently voiced their complaints to authorities, and that further meetings were planned between the two sides to agree on additional measures.
The complaints voiced during the strike relate to the broader national issue of shortages in auto parts due to difficulties importing these goods through the state’s currency controls. Within the country, these shortages have caused proposed layoffs by car manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, and an 83 percent drop in the number of cars produced in the first half of 2014, as compared with the same time period the previous year.
To address these issues, representatives from these auto companies and others recently met with Carabobo governor, Francisco Ameliach Orta, in Valencia, where they addressed problems with shortages and agreed to take measures to revitalize production.
The complaints also come in the context of recent unrest in some sectors of the Venezuelan labor force.
Last month, the Auto Assembly Workers’ Federation (FUTAAC) marched to the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas to raise attention to the refusal of various companies to negotiate new collective contracts.
And last week, workers from the state-owned steel plant Sidor, in Bolívar state, marched through Ciudad Guyana to protest delays in a negotiation of a new contract. Since the previous contract expired in 2010, the factory has been paralyzed by numerous strikes, leading to a drop in production and direct conflict with the national government.