Workers say the new labor legislation undercuts employees’ rights, lowers wages and makes union organizing more difficult.
Labor unions, social organizations and opposition political parties are protesting in the streets of Buenos Aires against labor reforms pushed through by the conservative government of President Mauricio Macri.
From 4pm local time, the protesters started marching from the Congress to the Plaza de Mayo, blocking the capital’s main streets. The Autonomous Workers Union (CTA) also announced a 24-hour general strike across the country.
“The only way to stop these reforms is organization,” said CTA leader Hugo ‘Cachorro’ Godoy. “This is why we are convoking the largest level of unity.
“That’s why we said that when these legislations are debated, we won’t just mobilize across the entire country, but we will block roads and we will do everything we can so they are not approved.”
The Association of Public Workers (ATE) is also demanding that the government renew all of the contracts that are due to expire this month, representing a total of at least 20,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the government has urged the Senate to debate the legislation before the end of this year.
Planned reforms – which would affect employees, retirees and trade unions – have come in for sustained criticism in recent months.
Workers say the labor legislation undercuts employees’ rights, lowers wages and makes union organizing more difficult, while pension changes would increase commodity prices and slash the number of beneficiaries.
Macri has been on a two-year crusade to install neoliberal, pro-market reforms since he took office in December 2015. Since then, more than 108,000 public workers have been laid off.
The administration eliminated energy and gas subsidies, resulting in a 500 percent price increase for electricity and a 300 percent jump for natural gas. Public transportation costs are up 100 percent in some areas.