A new report confirms a reality the conservative government and corporate Argentina would rather deny: a state of labor emergency.
More than 154,000 workers have been fired or suspended since President Mauricio Macri took office in December 2015, according to a report by Argentina’s Center of Political Economy (CEPA).
“After the first impact of massive layouts in various ministries and local governments, dismissals and suspensions in the private sector went way beyond the public sector,” said CEPA President Hernan Letcher.
The public sector’s share of the economy has decreased from 43 to 39 percent, while the private sector’s share has risen from 57 to 61 percent between March and April, according to the report.
These figures contradict the heads of Argentina’s big companies, who still deny that there has been wave of mass layoffs in the private sector. They are critical of a bill currently being debated in Congress that would declare a “state of labor emergency” and prohibit dismissals for 180 days.
Among them, the president of Fiat Argentina, Cristiano Rattazzi, said “in the public sector, gnocchis (meaning “parasite workers” in Argentina) were fired but not in the private sector, because we don’t need to do any (layoffs).”
However, the report found that over 14,000 workers in the private sector were either dismissed or suspended in April alone, most of them in the construction sector.
CEPA’s Letcher suggests the worst is yet to come, “as we have not observed the impact of opening (up) imports yet, which will toughly affect small and medium companies.”
The report was written before Argentine businesses committed to stop firing workers for the next 90 days, the product of a non-binding deal signed with President Mauricio Macri. Nevertheless, Letcher commented that the agreement will have no impact on the labor situation because it is neither binding nor retroactive.