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On September 5, the STISSS health care workers’ union declared a national strike in El Salvador calling for an end to privatization, union busting and the CAFTA free trade agreement between Central America and the US.

Together with the doctors’ union, they have paralyzed the health care system nationwide. The government has mobilized security forces and is threatening to use violence to open hospitals.

The Salvadoran unions are united in their demands that the government stop the privatization and contracting out of health care services, rehire fired workers, and include unions and health care users in any process of health care reform.

Health care users from across the country are gathering in front of the major health care centers in support of the striking workers. Union leaders are expecting heavy repression from government forces, as well as massive layoffs and blacklisting of union activists.

In 1999, the Salvadoran unions went on strike for four months, and successfully stalling the privatization plans of the ARENA party. Now, as negotiations for CAFTA are about to begin, ARENA is making its final push to privatize services and destroy militant public sector unions like the STISSS.

Messages supporting the striking workers can be faxed to the Salvadoran President Francisco Flores at 011.503.243.9947 or emailed to fmelgar@presidencia.gob.sv . Or you can contact the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador at cispes.org.