name is Washington Orellana. I'm general secretary of the Puerto Bolívar
Port Workers' Association. The organisation is based in Puerto Bolívar,
in El Oro province. The workers, within and without the organisation,
are all fighting for a better future and so that our labour and written
constitutional laws are respected. Our struggle started in 2002 and
we've sustained our struggle to the present day.
the rights of the workers shouldn't be trampled on by the companies
and their owners. We want to free the workers and give them some self-esteem.
The continuing situation that we have here in Puerto Bolivar is critical.
We eat out in the open. We don't eat like any decent person should,
with dignity, as a person who works and generates wealth for this province
and for Ecuador ought to. Other anomalies I could mention: we're not
registered with Social Security. As a result of our struggle we've won
that right. It is not something we have just won; it is something that
already existed within the law, the constitution and the Social Security
system. Every worker must by law be registered with the Social Security
system and we have managed to achieve that. We've been fighting for
getting our benefits paid, for workers to get paid what they are due.
We're fighting for the workers to get paid the benefits stipulated by
the Labour Code. The companies, which are known as the Port Freight
Operators (OPC), work within the port area. They have a permit from
the port authorities and the DIME (Merchant Navy and Ports of Ecuador)
for working there.
We especially want international organisations to know about the real
situation facing the Ecuadorian port workers. Now that we have achieved
something, the workers have more self-respect. We are fighting to give
our kids a better future. We don't want them to live like us: filling
boats with thousands of banana boxes, working there for days and nights.
It's just like the days when slavery existed. We want to get ourselves
out of this situation.
of this struggle for justice I am on a trial something which was instigated
by an extremely wealthy man from El Oro province, Mr. Servio Serrano
Correa, vice-president of CABANA. He brought a court case against because
of some articles which appeared in the press in which I denounced the
fact that companies operating in the port were taking the money from
the workers. They are the ones making profit, not the workers. The case
is still being processed. We hope that the judges are going to be fair
and they are going to give the right verdict under the labour law. The
workers know that I'm involved in this case because of our struggle.
These are problems that concern us all. We have to fight and to keep
on fighting. And that's what there is to know about our association;
about what we've done and what still have to do.
have been in negotiations with the manager and the President (of the
Republic), the new civil servants workers who have been in place since
the new government came to power. It's unacceptable that workers are
still treated like this, where their human rights are trampled over.
We want a decent canteen. We are asking for clean drinking water, not
a dirty bucket where all the sweaty port workers have dip in their glasses.
We want the companies to ask for a space for a canteen, or to build
one. Otherwise, they should pay for workers' meals and the stipends
established by law. We are also thinking about a project for getting
an area, which already exists for this, and to create an infrastructure
which gives the workers' dignity. In other countries people in prison
eat better and have more dignity than workers here do. This is our reality.
Workers have to be supported; they are the ones who generate wealth
for this country. Bananas are an export product. In other countries
port workers get better wages.
earn a pittance, just a rate fixed by the government of $0.03. We want
to change this. We hope to fix a stable price with this government,
on which we've pinned our hopes, an amount which relates to the basic
shopping basket, which is cost more than $360 (per month). Currently
we are earning less than half of this. What kind of wages are we getting?
How can we, the workers, survive on that? We want to thank the people
who are helping us to get out of this situation. We want to get out
of this situation. This problem is harming not only the workers but
also our families.
regards solidarity, we ask trade unions to give us support and energy
and advice on how we should maintain our sacrifices and the constancy
of our struggle, how we can keep on fighting. The struggle has just
begun. The working class will continue to fight for a better future
for the entire population of Ecuador.