John McAward: How do you view, over the next couple of years, the introduction into the assembly of the labor leaders from the National Union of Workers and Farmers (UNOC), and how do you see the relationship between the private sector and labor? How is each side going to better understand each other so that some of the battles that were fought in the 1970s and early 1980s do not repeat themselves? What are some of the changes that have taken place inside the country that might make us more optimistic about this relationship? Finally, are there any labor unions or business executives who could have resolved some of these problems, in light of the experiences elsewhere, such as in the United States, Argentina, or Chile? The one famous case might even be Coca-Cola in Guatemala.
Roberto Murray Meza: I will start with the last question.I do not know of any case where a labor leader promoted this type of a solution. But the case of Mexico, I think, is a good example. President Salinas de Gortari established a three-party pact among labor, the private sector, and the government that tied increases in salaries and improvement in benefits to certain levels of inflation, and those levels were tied, of course, to certain monetary, fiscal, and government policies.The pact was established for an eighteen-month period, after which it was to be renewed, providing there was proof of its success. That was an interesting experiment and something like it will have to happen in El Salvador.
With regard to your first question, two considerations are in order. It is an error to confuse labor activities with political activities. It is an error for labor leaders to become political activists in a party. Labor unions and labor leaders should be able to deal and negotiate with any political party. Their function is more permanent than that of the political term of any party in power.
In the case of El Salvador, there may be something of an exception