Members of Argentina's Provincial Workers’ Union, PWU, in La Plata still haven’t heard from government officials after they "promised" to discuss union members' future employment.
On Tuesday, the Argentine Labor Department “promised” the 380 PWU public workers it would create a roundtable discussion as early as today among the two entities to “discuss how (the government) will guarantee the work contracts,” but the government has provided no sign of following through with its word, said members of the State Workers’ Association, ATE.
The promise came as hundreds of people, including PWU members, ATE and the Popular Economy Confederation of Workers, PECW, protested outside of what had been the PWU offices for over 20 years until it was dissolved by the provincial government on Dec. 29.
Until the government “ensures dialogue,” the public school construction and repair union said it will continue to demonstrate in front of the building located along 8th Street in La Plata, according to PWU union representative Alejandra Piana. “Our objective is that all 380 dismissed workers have work,” she added.
Last week, as PWU members wrestled with the news of their immediate layoff and union dissolution, the assembly voted "unanimously to fight to remain a union," said Julian Morales Sorrain.
So far, only 100 workers have been notified of possible others public construction positions that may be available to them.
An investigation by Argentine news outlet Real Politik revealed that the layoffs leave over US$11.6 million worth of school repairs in the Buenos Aires province unfinished.
The PWU suspects that the right-wing administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri is hoping that the union dissolution will incite voluntary retirement and resignation from the public sector employees.
On Wednesday morning, 526 workers of the Buenos Aires municipality were informed by local authorities of their immediate dismissal while nearly 400 employees of the National Radio of Argentina were abruptly let go.
Transportation Minister Guillermo Dietrich has also announced that in February, the government will raise public transportation prices by about $.15 per ride.
In the next month, cellular phone companies will increase their monthly payment plan by 12 percent and the Ministry of Energy of Argentina will increase electricity prices by 24 percent after an initial increase in December. Natural gas prices will rise by 15 percent at the same time.
The Macri government is following to a T a recently-released International Monetary Fund recommendation to “decrease in government spending” and an increase in privatization to supposedly decrease the national deficit and reduce the country’s 23 percent inflation rate.
The IMF report calls for “reducing public employment ... based on hiring freezes over the next two years” to reduce spending by one percent by 2019.
In step with the international organization's recommendations, the administration did not renew some 15,000 government contract jobs this week and pledged to slash more in the coming year, prompting ATE to announce a national strike for next week, Jan. 4.
Macri and his right-wing Cambiemos legislative coalition have been implementing austerity measures far ahead of the official IMF recommendations.
Since Macri took office in Dec. 2015, his administration has cut approximately 108,000 public jobs. In 2017, the government reduced gas and electricity subsidies resulting in a 500 percent price increase for electricity and a 300 percent jump for natural gas.