Mérida, 10th July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Public health and safety inspectors from Vargas, Aragua, Miranda, and Carabobo states protested in Caracas yesterday, calling for the resignation of the president of Venezuela’s work security institute, INPSASEL. Other protests were also held around the country outside INPSASEL.
According to protesting workers talking to Aporrea, INPSASEL inspectors tried to apply article 135 of the health and safety law in the studios of national, private television channel Venevision, but were stopped by INPSASEL president, Nestor Ovalles.
Article 135 states that a company’s activities or production can be stopped when there is a serious or imminent danger to the health of workers. The INPSASEL workers state that there are conditions in the lighting department of Venevision that place the workers’ lives at risk, as “no security norms for those working at heights above 3 metres are respected”.
One inspector was verbally and psychological attacked by members of the human resources department of Venevision, causing him to suffer a stroke. He is still in intensive care.
Further, INPSASEL workers report that those in the capital district were prevented from participating in yesterday’s protest, with general director Eileen Batista apparently closing the doors to prevent them leaving, and threatening workers with losing their jobs if they joined the protest.
“For the health and security of the workers, we demand the president of INPSASEL leave,” read one placard at the protest. “President Maduro, we demand maximum efficiency, the president of INPSASEL isn’t with the workers when he negotiates with the oligarchy,” “Out of INPSASEL, Nestor Ovalles,” read another.
According to a statement put out by INPSASEL workers, the recent action by Ovalles was the “last straw”, as he has done similar things repeatedly in the past. The statement cites various cases of unfair dismissal and destroyed paperwork. It also argues that Ovalles is “trying to transform our institution into one that is at the service of the counter-revolution”.
One worker* told Aporrea, “They want to oblige us to arrive at agreements with the bosses, in complete violation of the gains that we have made within the framework of the revolutionary process”.
“We support the revolutionary process and we are actively accompanying the call to fight against corruption, bureaucracy, and inefficiency that our president Maduro has made, but we’re not going to allow a civil servant like Nestor Ovalles, disguised as a revolutionary, to deny our rights and those of the Venezuelan working class,” the worker said.
A Merida INPSASEL worker confirmed that the “majority” of her workplace also support the Caracas based protest. She said that workers face many “obstacles to carrying out our work, so we have denounced this internally and we haven’t received a response”. Workers also report lack of materials such as paper and printers in their offices and that directors often use the institute’s transport for their own personal needs.
President Nicolas Maduro has called for a “revolution within the revolution”, and a fight against the corruption and inefficiency within the government. So far various institutional heads and civil servants have been fired and even arrested, including from the China-Venezuela Fund, the tax agency Seniat, and the consumer protection office Indepabis.
The National Institute for Prevention, Health and Work Security (INPSASEL) is attached to the labour ministry and was created in 1986. However it wasn’t until much later that a president was appointed, and in 2002 the national executive began to support the organisation and a policy for workplace health was created. The institute is responsible for inspecting and monitoring the implementation of workplace health standards as well as working conditions.
*Worker’s names have not been included in the article in order to protect them.