CONATEL Blues

CJZl2_mWsAA-aMpThe National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) has expanded its core duties into supporting the State’s repression apparatus by monitoring what Venezuelans say on social media, among other things. But as CONATEL tries to do too much at once, its workers are feeling the strain.

On Wednesday, CONATEL employees organized an impromptu protest right in front of the agency’s main offices to press for better wages, new uniforms, social security benefits, and above all, the right to form their own union.

One CONATEL worker, Denny Brazón said a formal letter was sent last year to their bosses asking for solutions to their demands, but they received no response. They want the Labor Ministry to get involved in their case ASAP.

CONATEL’s employees are not alone: many public sector workers claim their collective bargaining agreements expired years ago, and the central government has shown little interest in renewing them or opening negotiations with independent workers’ unions. At least two million workers of our ginormous public administration are stuck in this situation.

What’s the stance of CONATEL’s management? Director-General William Castillo seems to believe that his subordinates’ working conditions of  are not priority. Instead, he is focusing on get new legal tools to fight a new kind of cyber-crimes, which are part of the “economic war”. Either he buys his own theories or he just saw “Enemy of the State” too many times.

“There’s not only bachaqueo of products by electronic means, part of the economic war, Venezuela is also used as bridge for voice and data transit, those new phenomenons cost the country millions of dollars.”

And looks like he has Luisa Ortega Diaz’s back, as Castillo also wants to “regulate” the use of social networks. That will be tough to do without any workers to back you up.

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