By Gladylis Flores.
It took Nisbel Bolivar, a worker at the Orinoco Iron and Steel Company (Sidor), six hours to reach the state-run company headquarters in Puerto Ordaz from Ciudad Bolivar on September 19, to begin a hunger strike.
Once, Sidor was the largest steelmaker in the Western Hemisphere and grew as successive governments invested oil revenue in it as part of a bid to diversify the economy despite declining steel prices worldwide. Now the company is producing almost zero, as the Venezuelan Gross Domestic Product is now 10% of what it was in 2013, when Nicolas Maduro first took over, a decline steeper than the one experienced by the United States during the Great Depression.
Bolivar left at 7:30 am to walk the 90 kilometers; however, he got support from people along the way.
“My feet hurt a lot, physically, I am quite exhausted, but I am not going back home until I have something concrete. I see my daughter almost malnourished and my mother, who was on the verge of death,” said the sidorista to El Pitazo after he arrived at the company where co-workers were waiting for him.
The worker from the state company began a hunger strike to demand the restitution of his salary, which get suspended on September 30. Also, he asks for the reactivation of his health insurance.
Although some of the company’s directors came to promise to pay what they owe, Bolivar assured that until this not gets fulfilled, he will not lift his protest. Since last October 12, he began a strike in which authorities promised him the payment by October 15. But this did not happen.
“I stand firm and will not give in. This is a violation of our labor and human rights,” said Bolivar.
Almost 2,000 workers from Sidor got without salary, by a decision of the company.