Honduras: Bus, Taxi Drivers Suspend Strike As Talks Continue

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Honduras’ national transportation association announced they would temporarily suspend their strike on Friday evening after two days blocking roads to demand a reduction in fuel prices.

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Bus and taxi drivers in Honduras blocked streets in Tegucigalpa and other provinces on Thursday and Friday. Their original demand was an increase in fares to keep par with maintenance and fuel prices, but this was rejected by the public.

"We have presented a proposal and the government representatives are analyzing it," said Marvin Galo, president of the National Transportation Council (CNT). "We will meet again to hear their counter-proposal."

After initial negotiations with the government, in which they were offered a fare increase of one lempira (US$0.04) and a small subsidy by Public Transportation Minister Carlos Madero, the CNT changed its demand to a US$0.95 (23 lempiras) reduction in the price of a gallon of fuel.

"A price reduction of 23 lempiras would benefit us all; everyone should understand that," said one taxi driver taking part in the protests. "Honduras: protest in the transportation sector continue. There’s still no agreement with the government over the reduction on fuel prices."

The blockades forced schools and other institutions to suspend activities, with students and staff unable to reach their destinations on Thursday. By Friday, the blockades were only partially lifted.

Rony Figueroa, of taxi drivers’ association Ataxish, said the decision to suspend the blockade was partially due to people charging fees to pass, which was contrary to the spirit of the protests: "We came out of this as a good faith act… the strike is aborted at national level because they’re charging tolls."

Most protests were peaceful, but some burned tires and vehicles, prompting anti-riot police to fire tear gas.
Tegucigalpa, July 19, 2018. Photo | EFE

"We know our comrades have to provide for their families," said Victor Aguilar, also from Ataxish. "They have to go out and work. There are many that didn’t want us to stop, but we’re doing it as an act of good faith."

According to the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), the strike and blockade have caused about US$174,787.20 (4.2 million lempiras) in losses.

"We ask both the government representatives and the transportation sector to find a solution that benefits the general population," said Armando Urtecho, COHEP director. "These measures harm the workers because they’re paid by day, they’re the most affected ones."

The CNT announced that if no agreement was reached by Friday, they would continue normal activities during the weekend and restart their strike on Monday at 5 a.m. local time.



Source

Latin America News

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