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Argentine unions protest at Atucha dismissals

12 July, 2017IndustriALL Argentinian affiliates SMATA and UOM, joined a solidarity protest for 1,000 dismissed workers at the Atucha nuclear plant.

The protest was held on 9 July, the anniversary of Argentina’s declaration of independence. But with the dismissals affecting more than 1,000 families in the city of Zárate, there was not much evidence of any festive spirit at the event.

The protest aimed to highlight the dispute and denounce a situation that is becoming all too common in Argentina. The loss of 1,000 jobs at the Atucha nuclear plant is a direct consequence of economic measures taken by Mauricio Macri’s government.

The government is dismantling energy policies that had facilitated the development of plants such as Atucha in Zarate. The construction of other plants has been suspended or cancelled, worsening the unemployment situation.

Dismissals are taking place in all sectors of Argentina’s economy. Moreover, one in every four dismissals in the second quarter of the year were due to company closures, according to the most recent employment survey conducted by the Centro de Economía Política Argentina (CEPA).

CEPA’s report notes that 3,700 workers have been affected every month since the beginning of the year. CEPA calculates that there has been a total of 264,143 dismissals and lay-offs (76,526 in the public sector and 187,617 in the private sector) since Macri became president in December 2015.

In the case of Atucha, the unions decided to act because the labour ministry failed to initiate mandatory conciliation procedures. The unions will meet ministry officials on 11 July, when they hope to get answers to their questions and solutions for the dismissed workers.

Fernando Lopes from IndustriALL Global Union, said:

“Macri’s government is implementing neoliberal adjustment policies that have an impact on workers. They will not accept these policies and the struggle will get increasingly tough. They have the support of IndustriALL Global Union”.

The construction workers’ union, UOCRA, affiliated to the Building Workers’ International (BWI), organized the protest with the support of the autoworkers’ union, SMATA and the metalworkers’ union, UOM, both affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, and the chemical workers’ unions.