In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while Bolivia has been in a state of emergency since March 18th 2020, the Centre for the Advancement of Women "Gregoria Apaza" - a partner of WSM - has launched a massive campaign on social networks to raise awareness among workers about the need for authorities and private actors to respect their rights, through the development of an online application (App). "At work, your rights must continue to be respected", announces this campaign, which is being promoted in various media.
Today, most countries in the world are facing the COVID-19 pandemic and Bolivia is not spared. On March 10th 2020, the first positive case was confirmed and on March 18th that the Bolivian State adopted several measures in response to the arrival of the corona-virus.
As a first step, Bolivia announced the suspension of classes at all levels of education until March 31st and decided that all public and private companies should limit work to 5 hours a day (from 8 to 13 hours) and that employers should provide adequate hygiene equipment as well as disinfectants and antibacterials. It was also decided that employers should adopt cleaning protocols and inform their staff on the measures to be taken to protect their health at work. To date, a series of measures has been issued through various decrees, including Decree No. 4200, which imposes quarantine and declares a state of health emergency until April 15th 2020.
"This quarantine should not be a pretext to violate rights at your workplace," is the message that the Centre for the Advancement of Women Gregoria Apaza (CPMGA, partner of WSM) is hammering home with its new campaign, stressing the importance of informing workers about the new legal measures taken by the government during the state of emergency, so that their labour rights and access to social protection are not violated.
CPMGA is implementing a communication strategy through social networks, its own web page and its community radio "Radio Pachamama". Through this channels, it broadcasts awareness messages as well as official communications issued by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security and other public institutions.
As the health emergency expands, doubts emerge about respect for workers' rights and access to social protection in the production sectors, the private sector, micro and small enterprises, as well as for domestic workers, self-employed workers and, of course, all workers in the informal economy. To address these issues, CPMGA is actively involved in providing free legal advice on the fundamental rights of workers.
A virtual platform has been set up to inform them of their rights and provide them with specific advice on the effects of the relevant new regulations, as well as on the possibilities of making claims for compensation. This legal advice aims not only to identify complaints and likely violations of labour rights that women face, but also to make them visible in order to bring them to the attention of the relevant public institutions.
To date, Gregoria Apaza has responded to all the requests for information received and is constantly reporting on the Bolivian government's new legal measures in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, thus guaranteeing the dissemination and right to information which are of vital importance for everyone during this social and health crisis.
But the work is far from over. CPMGA intends to continue its commitment to provide free legal advice and thus reach out to people from different economic sectors. Through this campaign, the organisation intends to stimulate the creation of spaces for citizen participation to monitor respect for the right to social protection and labour rights. To this end, in addition to denouncing abuses, they intend to disseminate good practices recorded in the field and also to ensure that the standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are respected.
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The question arises as to what support we offer, as high income countries, so that low and middle income countries can cope with this crisis and future ones.
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