On Friday, February 8, hundreds of unionized municipal workers from the Union Federation of Municipal Workers (FESITRAM) gathered outside the office of El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman before marching to the Supreme Court of Justice to protest recent waves of mass firings in cities across El Salvador following the March 2012 municipal elections. The dismissals were particularly devastating in municipalities that changed hands from the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party to the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, with over a thousand workers laid off between San Salvador, Mejicanos and Soyapango alone.
The latest in a series of recent mobilizations, the workers marched to demand the immediate resolution of 7 separate cases challenging the constitutionality of municipal firings that have stalled after being filed with the Supreme Court. Addressing the press outside the Court, FESITRAM President Juan José Barahona Canizales called for “swift and effective justice.” As a result of their pressure, FESITRAM leaders won a meeting with Magistrates Salomón Padilla and Florentín Meléndez of the Court’s Constitutional Chamber, who pledged to emit decisions regarding the cases soon.
On the following Monday, February 11, Human Rights Ombudsman Oscar Luna made a public pronouncement regarding the recent mass firings in Soyapango. Luna condemned the mayor’s actions as illegal, accusing the municipal government of violating the workers’ rights to due process, and recommended their immediate reinstatement along with investigations by the Attorney General, State Auditors and the Ethics Tribunal. Luna, who in January publicly censured ARENA Mayor Norman Quijano of San Salvador for firing hundreds of municipal workers, also promised to address cases of labor violations in Apopa, Ilopango, San Martín and Mejicanos in the coming days. In the meantime, FESITRAM leaders are committed to continuing their pressure to achieve justice for their fired fellow workers.