Public sector union UNE celebrates 44th anniversary

NSCAG News | on: Tuesday, 29 March 2022

44 years of service to Nicaraguan workers

44 years of service to Nicaraguan workers

On 26 March, Nicaraguan public sector union UNE celebrated its 44th anniversary. NSCAG first made contact with the union in the 1980s and congratulates them on this important milestone. We salute their achievements and their ongoing commitment to defending the labour and social rights of their members.

UNE has its origins in the struggles of the Sandinistas to overthrow the brutal Somoza dictatorship. After the Sandinistas came to power in 1979, the union started organising in government ministries representing workers in communications, energy, water and the municipalities. From 1979 to 1990, the union set up collective bargaining agreements and promoted a Civil Service Law to guarantee job security for workers regardless of the political party in power.

In 1990, the Sandinistas lost the elections and a US-backed right wing coalition came to power. The neo liberal years lasted until 2007, during which time the public sector was brought to its knees. Over 100,000 state sector workers lost their jobs - 66% of the workforce - including 2,500 union leaders. Partly because of the privatisation of previously publicly owned services and in part because of attacks on unions, the membership of UNE fell to 5,000.

The return to power of the Sandinista government in 2007 saw the restoration of the public sector and of trade union rights. UNE now has around 40,000 members and its members have seen vast improvements in working conditions and salary levels. UNE organises in central government (social security, tax collection) and local government (municipalities) and in the electricity and water industries.

During its Congress held to coincide with the anniversary celebrations, UNE members reiterated their commitment to defend the achievements of the Revolution and to defend the rights of workers and their families. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the government's plans to reduce poverty and focus on human development.

Viva UNE!

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