Argentina: Massive Protest against Macri’s Government

In commemoration of the International Worker’s Day, all five Worker’s Centrals converged outside the Ministry of Labour in Buenos Aires City after marching from different points of the city. More than 150,000 workers,  laid of workers protested against Macri’s economic policies which have resulted in layoffs and an increasing inflation in basic goods. Social and political movements also joined the protests. Both left-wing and Kirchnerist organizations were present to support the claims and reject, once again, the political and economic project that Macrismo intends to deepen.

Protesters also marched in favor of the “Anti-layoffs Law” that has already obtained preliminary approval in the Senate and to reject Macri’s sayings: he affirmed that if the law passes, he would veto it.  The Anti-Layoffs Law project seeks to put a limit on layoffs in both the public and private sector and it would be retroactive from March 1, 2016, which would apply to all workers that are fired from that date on. Any worker dismissed without proper cause during that period, would be entitled to double the amount of a regular severance, meaning that employers wouldn’t be so inclined to lay workers off.

Protest in Argentina

The increasing job instability, plus the significant raise in basic service rates, are putting a dent on Macri’s good image and on the support of sectors that had backed him in the election. The government has not been able to revert this tendency, as Macri and his cabinet had intended with the few social measures they announced:an insufficient increase in Child Allowance and the VAT refund, for items under 300 pesos (21 dollars).

The State Worker’s Association (ATE) also participated in the mobilization. This sector has been severely hit by the policy of reduction of the state that Macri’s government has taken up: 70,000 state workers have been dismissed, including workers who are part of the most important healthcare programs, such as programs for the prevention of Dengue and Zika and delivery of medicines. ATE has already held a National Strike earlier this year and organized several marches to both the Modernization Ministry and the Labour Ministry.

University teachers also joined the protest. Currently, they are carrying out a national strike due to the impossibility of achieving a decent wage increase: in the negotiations, the government offered a 15% raise by the end of this year. This was not enough for the unions, given that the expected inflation for 2016 exceeds 40%. University teachers started the strike on Monday, after another unsuccessful meeting with the authorities. As if that wasn’t enough, the authorities of the public university approved next year’s budget with an increase of 0% (zero percent), which, added to the huge increase in basic services, left many faculties struggling to pay for their electricity bills, let alone to pay their teachers and workers. It looks like the education is not a priority for this government.

In a joint statement called “Unity for Social Justice”, the five workers’ organizations expressed their demands, which were divided into six items.

The first item rings the alarm on the “job loss” and calls to support the voting of the law of “labour emergency”, which was already pass by the Senate and will be discussed in the Deputy Chamber next week.

The second item criticizes President Mauricio Macri’s “failure to meet campaign promises” on “the tax on work” (which is how they call the income tax that weighs upon those that aren’t exactly rich) and highlights that “salary is not profit”. The third item calls for “the universalization of family allowances” and the fourth claims for the full enforcement of a pension that is adjustable to inflation and for an integral solution for the pension system”, which is currently in crisis.

The fifth point demands the government to comply “the respect of full right to strike with no Security Protocol”, as the one created by the ministry headed by Patricia Bullrich, which allows the police to take action in social protests.

The last point of the document ask for “no meddling of any external organism in Unions’ lives”. The text is a “warning to political forces so that they acknowledge these problems”, and also, “to the government, that should be announcing concrete measures to find a way out of the crisis”, and stressed the “unity between Unions, due to the seriousness of the situation”.

Video:

Photo caption: “Total roadblock by demonstrations”, reads the sign

Photo Caption: National strike against the adjustment

Photo caption: “This House is Peronist and of the UPCN Union” (Union of Civil Workers of the State), reads the banner on the left. The one on the right reads “Organization Defeats Time”.

Photo caption: Truck drivers of the province of Neuquen. The Truck Driver Union is one of the most powerful ones in Argentina, because of their high level of organization and their potential ability to stop the economy of the country if they make a stoppage.

Photo caption: Cartoneros and recyclers behind a sculpture of the Virgin of Lujan, a popular religious image

Photo caption: “NO to hunger wages in the City Government of Buenos Aires”, “No to threats of layoffs”, “Culture Workers of the City Government”


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