Argentine organized labour anticipates fierce wage talks despite controversial tax relief
Argentina’s organized labour CGT confederation led by Hugo Moyano came on stage on Tuesday to make clear that Monday’s income tax floor 20% rise announced by President Cristina Fernández “is not enough” and anticipated fierier wage talks with a clear 25% raise demand.
During a speech on national television from Government House Cristina Fernandez said that the rise in the income tax floor means a revenue sacrifice for the Treasury of 8 billion Pesos and that 82.5% of dependent employees “will now cease to pay income tax”.
The rise of the income tax floor has been for a long time one of the main demands from organized labour, even from those groups that still support the government of President Cristina Fernandez.
Lawmaker and Newspaper Salesmen union boss Omar Plaini warned during a radio interview that the income tax floor “was not increased last year”, hence indicating that workers are still trailing inflation in what seems to be an endless race.
Likewise, Plaini stressed that once collective bargaining talks finish, “there will be much more workers reached by the income tax”.
“Yesterday’s (Monday) announcement leads us to fierier wage talks as the income-tax floor is something based on inflation. All unions are starting talks with a clear demand: a 25% raise”, thus going above the 20% maximum raise that several officials from President Cristina Fernandez have been lobbying for.
Furthermore, UATRE farm hands union leader Gerónimo Venegas, considered that President Fernández came totally short, and added “the increase has nothing to do with the country’s reality; the President believes she lives in Wonder Land.”
“How come President Fernández wants a maximum wage increase of 20% when last year’s inflation rate was around 28%?” Venegas insisted during a meeting with radio reporters.
Vanegas also explained that “after two years without touching the income tax floor, the announcement comes short, it’s not enough. But the President wants to keep collecting money on the workers expenses”.
The unionist also responded to the President’s attack after the Head of State indicated during Monday’s speech that even though the farming sector has the highest profitability rates the farm hands have some of the lowest salaries in the nation.
“It gives one the chills plus anger to see the President lying just like that”, Venegas counterattacked and remembered that last year “it was her government that took us away a 10.7 percentage points increase after we had discussed and reached a 35.7% increase during wage talks since the national government only authorized a 25% rise.”
“Today’s minimum wage for a farm hand worker is 3,580 Pesos (approx 500 dollars) plus home and food” he added.
Cristina Fernandez also argued that with the new scale and higher tax floor, Argentina will be collecting from workers 5% of tax revenue, compared to 7% in Brazil and 8% in Chile and Uruguay.
The Argentine president turned up at the meeting in Casa Rosada with Guy Ryder ILO Director General who is on a work visit to Argentina. On Wednesday he is scheduled to meet with the main leaders of organized labour which have ceased to support government and have become strong critics of President Cristina Fernandez.