Colombian unions march in support of aid bills for working class and poor By Reuters
By Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Thousands of Colombian protesters returned to the streets of major cities on Tuesday to once again demand that Congress approve union-backed social policies to benefit the poorest.
The protestors, whose numbers are much lower than they were earlier this year, also protested against the nearly $4Billion tax reform passed by Congress this month. The unions claim it is not enough to benefit the working class.
In order to help 29 million people, the reform includes temporary basic income payments to 4,000,000 families who are poor. Also, it will provide free tuition at public universities and technical school for youth from middle and poor families. There will also be salary subsidies to businesses that hire young women and girls.
Francisco Maltes of Central Union of Workers (CUT), said to Reuters that although the government is helping some families, it has not been sufficient aid.
He said that lawmakers must approve the union-backed legislation package to “fight hunger” and reduce inequality.
These proposals would provide a minimum income of $236 per month for 7.5 million families over 13 months. They also include free college for students and small business aid. Two months have passed since Congress opened its current session.
The withdrawal of an earlier version of tax reform was prompted by large protests that erupted between April and June. This led to the resignation of the minister of finance.
There were at least 29 deaths in protests. Most of these deaths could be attributed to police excessive force. Meanwhile, roadblockades created shortages across the country.
Another group, mostly female marchers, marched to commemorate International Safe Abortion Day.
Although Colombia does allow abortion in certain circumstances, such as a danger to the health or rape of fatal fetal defects, activists argue that the process is not easy for women living in rural areas.
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