Copaco union threatens repeat of 2002 protests

25 Oct 2005

The workers’ union for Copaco, Paraguay’s national PTO, is threatening strikes and protests against the state’s plans to resume the on-off privatisation of the company. Last month the Paraguayan government asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to extend an economic agreement to give the country more time to formulate a new privatisation plan for its state-owned assets. Copaco is among four companies due for a pre-privatisation audit early next year and the country is coming under increasing pressure from the IMF to sell off its holdings. The government had originally proposed selling a stake in Copaco and opening up the local, long-distance and international telephony markets at the end of 2002, but strong opposition from telecoms workers’ union Sinattel – culminating in rioting and street protests – brought the plan to a grinding halt. There is now the very real possibility of a repeat of such scenes. ‘We will go again to the streets and on this occasion the strikes will be much larger,’ Ricardo Morlas, the Copaco union secretary, told local newspaper ABC, according to BNamericas. ‘We will not allow the IMF to take control of the few properties the country has.’

Paraguay, Copaco