With a planned national strike and marches Argentines are once again taking to the streets by the thousands to protest the government’s elimination of over 3,000 public workers in December.
One of Argentina’s largest unions, the State Workers’ Association, ATE, announced the march last week in the wake of the local and national government’s decision to not renew 3,346 contract jobs that expired Dec. 31.
ATE secretary general, Hugo Godoy said that the Mauricio Macri administration’s neoliberal measures and the private sector are trying to “eradicate” public workers and “convert Argentina into the world’s Supermarket.”
Today, 128 workers of the state’s Agricultural Sanitary and Quality Service were informed they were without a job effective immediately. That marks a string of state employee layoffs that have happened since the protests against prior layoffs were announced Dec. 28.
Yesterday 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 on Tuesday.
The provincial government of Buenos Aires dissolved its branch of the Provincial Workers’ Union, PWU, last week leaving its 380 members scrambling for employment amidst inflation rates that hover around 21 percent since last July. The government dissolution of a union is particularly alarming in a country known for its long-running, resilient unions.
In addition to massive layoffs, the minister of transportation, Guillermo Dietrich, announced yesterday an immediate increase of as much as US$0.15 on trains and buses in Buenos Aires by as much as US$0.15. The Free Consumer advocacy group is questioning the legality of the abrupt move.
“This increase is susceptible to being judicially questioned because (the government) did not convoke a public audience prior to the fair hike”, says the Argentine consumer advocacy group’s director, Héctor Polino. He says the group is "requesting more information" regarding the transportation increase because it "doesn't agree" with the Ministry of Transportation's decision.
He vehemently questions the rate at which the government is slashing subsidies and making economic changes, which are in lock step with recommendations put forth last week by the International Monetary Fund for Argentina.
His comment is in response to the Ministry of Energy's decision to increase electricity prices by 24 percent in February and a natural gas increase of 15 percent at the same time.
Polino says, “the elimination of subsidies has to be done gradually.”