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Macri administration feels the pressure from trade unions

Tuesday, March 14th 2017 - 12:08 UTC
Full article 8 comments
“One can suspect that this is linked to the fact that this is an election year,” Frigerio said. Labor issues would be resolved through negotiation rather than strikes. “One can suspect that this is linked to the fact that this is an election year,” Frigerio said. Labor issues would be resolved through negotiation rather than strikes.
”He (Macri) called on Friday to reprehend me, he's a stubborn kid, bad tempered” said union leader Luis Barrionuevo. ”He (Macri) called on Friday to reprehend me, he's a stubborn kid, bad tempered” said union leader Luis Barrionuevo.

Argentine labor unions appear to be pressuring the government by holding marches and threatening strikes ahead of the country's key October mid-term elections, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio said Monday.

 President Mauricio Macri took office 15 months ago promising to jumpstart the economy by regaining the trust of investors after a decade of free-spending populism. Until last week, organized labor had signaled patience with his program aimed at cutting labor costs, interest rates and the fiscal deficit.

Thousands of workers picketed March 7 in protest of job cuts and wages that have not kept up with inflation, which was clocked at about 40% in 2016. Strikes by major labor groups have been threatened over the weeks ahead.

“One can suspect that this is linked to the fact that this is an election year,” Frigerio told reporters. Labor issues, he said would be resolved through negotiation rather than strikes.

“We had a very tough first year of policymaking, and we felt we had the support of big labor organizations,” he added. “You have to ask yourself why they were with us during the toughest months and are now threatening strikes and marches.”

The one-day labor march last week attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators in Buenos Aires. It was the first demonstration by the CGT umbrella labor group this year and came amid a two-day teachers' strike that delayed the opening of school after the summer holidays.

Employers have been hard-pressed to raise pay packages in line with inflation while Macri's push to cut business costs has prompted layoffs in the public and private sectors.

He needs his Cambiemos political coalition to do well in October's elections in order for him to keep pushing his economic reforms through Congress and position himself for re-election in 2019.

A strong union leader who during Macri's first year in office supported him, and is now somehow disenchanted described the president as a “bad tempered kid”, stubborn, who is not aware of danger.

”He (Macri) called on Friday to reprehend me, he's a stubborn kid, bad tempered“ said Luis Barrionuevo. ”I told him he was surrounded by incompetent, stupid snitches who hadn't a clue how people were feeling“.

Apparently Macri told Barrionuevo ”to be careful“ and ”look after yourself“, which the union leader interpreted that ”most probably he would have my union headquarters raided by the tax people looking for alleged unreported expenses, but I couldn't care less. If he's not aware how people feel and lets snitches full his ears, it's up to him”

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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  • Enrique Massot

    Not only is Argentina still in recession--it's intensifying, and despair among the most vulnerable--and the no so much vulnerable--is growing. The foreign debt grows exponentially--and the money is basically financing operations--not capital projects. There is not a single economic indicator on the black.
    Less and less people speak about “errors,” and it's becoming more clear every day that a methodical plan to transfer resources from the less fortunate to the few wealthiest is being applied.
    Meanwhile, Macri continues to practice his favourite marketing program: deny, divert, deny.

    Mar 15th, 2017 - 01:30 am +3
  • Enrique Massot

    It is indeed refreshing to have a commentator who argues and questions ideas instead of bashing the messenger.

    One of Mauricio Macri's promises was to preside over a lean state. He was apparently fulfilling that promise when his administration let go public employees, mostly on the premise they were “ñoquis,” that is, employees who get paid but don't show up for work. What did he do next? Hire new employees at much higher levels of pay. He also formed a government fatter than the previous one, with a lot of new ministries with unclear roles. The end result was a fiscal deficit much higher than that of the previous government.

    Now for the subsidies, they may not have been well thought, were perhaps badly designed and perhaps excessive. However, the previous government paid those subsidies with its own resources--not with borrowed money. Macri ended many subsidies and at the same time is borrowing like there is no tomorrow, with little to show for the money.

    You are right that the Post Office debt deal shows lack of judgement. There is also the scandalous Avianca deal. Both also show absolute lack of ethics, greed, disregard for the notion of conflict of interest, and the despicable attitude of “let's do it, and if people don't realize it we're good.”

    As for the unions, you need to know they form a class in itself already called in the 1960s “burocracia sindical,” (a sad inheritance left by Peronism) who are extremely backward people who look after their own good only and who have, with few honourable exceptions, negotiated with every military dictatorship in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
    They now may be calling for a national day of strike at the end of the month, but only because the union members are pushing for it.

    Mar 15th, 2017 - 05:39 pm +3
  • Enrique Massot


    The top CGT (General Labour Confederation) leaders are in for themselves only. Union leaders, some are better than others, but union history in Argentina is narrowly tied to Peronism and has two sides--one is large membership--the other is lack of internal democracy. In any event, one of the CGT leaders said they will announce tomorrow a date for a one-day general strike, which will probably happen in the first week of April.

    However, I'd like to briefly comment on today's street demonstrations that took place in many provinces. Apparently, many of such demonstrations surprised by their spread and in many cases, seem to have been pretty much spontaneous. In any event, today may've been a watershed moment for a good part of the population that seems to have lost hope in waiting for changes. On the other hand, the government claims a K conspiracy to unseat them, when in reality Kirchnerism would have limited power today to create mobilizations as large as today's.

    Mar 16th, 2017 - 04:12 am +3
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