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  • State workers gather outside the Labor Ministry demanding a halt in job cuts as part of a protest in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 29, 2015.

    State workers gather outside the Labor Ministry demanding a halt in job cuts as part of a protest in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 29, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 January 2016

Union leaders said that they are looking into possible legal action over what they say are baseless and “barbaric” dismissals.

The total of public sector workers fired in Argentina since the beginning of 2016 hit 10,000 on Thursday as President Mauricio Macri’s administration continues its audit of state contracts, Prensa Latina reported.

The layoffs have impacted workers in various state departments as well as the municipality of Buenos Aires, and still more people are expected to be left out of work as the government continues to make cuts.

Vice President Gabriela Michetti has said that “ministers are going to act in the same style,” indicating that there are likely to be more dismissals.

The new numbers of layoffs come after Michetti announced that the government would conduct an “audit” of job appointments to potentially fire more “Kirchnerist militants.”

“Solidarity with the thousands of workers fired by Macri’s government. No to ideological persecution.”

Among the 10,000 laid off workers are over 2,000 fired Senate staffers, 600 employees of the Kirchner Cultural Center whose contracts were not renewed, 150 fired Cabinet workers, and dozens more infrastructure and communications laborers fired from their posts, Prensa Latina reported.

In the province of Buenos Aires, some 4,500 public sectors workers have been fired in the municipality of La Plata, up to 1,000 have been fired in Quilmes, and almost 300 in Lanus. There are also hundreds more labor contracts under review that could also soon be on the chopping block.

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Meanwhile, two major public sector labor unions in Argentina went on strike Thursday to protest recent moves by President Mauricio Macri’s administration to review and dismiss state workers, namely more than 2,000 Senate staffers, local media reported.

The Union of the Civil Employees of the Nation or UPCN, and the Association of State Workers or ATE, together representing tens of thousands of public sector workers, slammed Macri’s cuts to workers as an injustice.

Union leaders said that they are looking into possible legal action they could take against the government over what they say are baseless and “barbaric” dismissals.

“ATE denounces ‘mass layoffs’ in the public administration and threatens a national strike.”

ATE leader Hugo Godoy called the labor cuts a “grave situation,” saying the union is preparing to take further steps to secure “labor stability” for the country’s some 3 million public sector workers, including some 600,000 who are precariously employed.

“We are in a state of alert and mobilization,” said Godoy. “We are taking measures everywhere there are layoffs.”

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Macri’s newly-appointed Minister of Modernization Andres Ibarra has also said that the ministry is planning to review 24,000 public sector contracts and tenders, which unions fear could result in more unemployment or precarious employment.

“State labor unions in state of alert and mobilization.”

Since Ibarra’s announcement, many have thought that the review process could be a guise to justify clearing out political opponents from the public sector ranks of the new right-wing government. Michetti’s comments about targeting “militants” supporting the governments of former President Cristina Fernandez and Nestor Kirchner seem to confirm the politically-motivated nature of the mass layoffs.

Meanwhile, workers of the Kirchner Cultural Center also protested on Thursday against a government decision not to renew job contracts for 80 percent of the center’s workforce.

Union leaders have vowed to continue to protest any unjustified public sector labor cuts.

WATCH: Argentina Public Workers on Strike


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