Colombia’s government continues to refuse to negotiate demands of a national strike that has triggered more than two weeks of almost ongoing anti-government protests, strike leaders said Thursday.
The labor unions and student leaders met with government delegates for the second time on Thursday after two previous attempts to convince the government to negotiate.
“They want an applause committee”
The meeting lasted 30 minutes after which teachers union Fecode tweeted that “the government doesn’t want to negotiate. They don’t listen. Basically, they want an applause committee.”
So, we will continue in the streets, with applause, pots and pans, music… peaceful but with emotion… The social mobilization continues because our country needs a change.
Teachers union Fecode
Government “seeks to delay dialogue”
Student representatives said the government “seeks to delay dialogue.”
The student and teacher representatives said they will meet on Friday and on Saturday to define new strike dates.
We asked the Government to really sit down and discuss. To this end, we proposed that they create a negotiating committee, based on the 13 points we have requested. However, so far this has not been possible.
Fecode president Nelson Alarcon
According to student leader Alex Gonzalez, “the character and scope of the roundtable was discussed, but the government does not want to define it as a negotiating table until the demands are specified.”
Alarcon said that “we agreed that on Wednesday we will present in writing the implications of our requests.”
The strike leaders appeared to be in no hurry as the government’s response to the days of national strike and the anti-government protests have only strengthened their position.
President Ivan Duque‘s approval rating has been plummeting because of the strikes that have been able to maintain momentum with apparent ease and public support.
Whether the government’s alleged dilation of negotiations is a tactic or it simply doesn’t know how to proceed is unclear.
While Duque’s approval rating is crumbling, the government has been trying to have a tax reform approved before December 16 when Congress goes on its three-month leave.
Whether political parties will want to continue to support the reform is unclear. The reform passed its first of eight voting rounds on Monday, but this was before polls were released indicating that Duque has gone into a self-destruct sequence.
The president won’t be eligible for a second term and his party seems doomed, but the other parties may want to disassociate from the president and his far-right ruling party who appear to be going toxic.