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IndustriALL warns Argentina not to weaken labour laws

23 March, 2016On a visit to Argentina, IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina warned the new government not to weaken labour laws and social protection, as a sustained economic crisis threatens jobs in the country.

During a visit to Buenos Aires on 16-17 March, IndustriALL Global Union’s general secretary Jyrki Raina met with the labour minister and industry secretary of the new government, visited national unions and discussed with the national council of IndustriALL affiliates in Argentina.

With the entire continent in recession, Argentina’s growth has been slowed by Brazil’s contracting economy. Argentina is highly dependent on trade with Brazil, which has dropped since 2014.

Decreasing exports have already led to job losses in the industry, and unions fear that many more are yet to come. There are signs that the new government may not want to maintain the mechanisms protecting workers from dismissals.

In a meeting with Argentina’s labour minister Jorge Triaca, Jyrki Raina warned the government not to weaken labour laws and social protection, currently among the best in Latin America.

“They have contributed to balanced industrial relations and social peace in the country,” Raina said.

Triaca assured that the government will continue to handle matters in consultation with the unions and employers, the goal is to avoid dismissals and take care of workers.

In talks with industry secretary Martin Etchegoyen, Raina emphasized the importance of active policy measures to maintain and develop Argentina’s strong industrial base, which accounts for as much as 29 per cent of the country’s gross national product.

Etchegoyen said that the new government believed in the continued success of the country’s diversified industries, with strong presence in the automotive, steel, chemical and textile industries. The situation in Brazil complicates matters; infrastructure requires investments, but finances and lending remain a major problem.

Argentina has suffered from high inflation for many years, forecasted to be at least 30 per cent in 2016, complicating lending decisions. In addition, the new government removed currency restrictions in December, causing the peso to plummet by 35 per cent against the US dollar.

During his visit, Raina met with the IndustriALL national council to discuss the situation in Argentina and the preparations for IndustriALL’s congress in Rio de Janeiro in October. He addressed a workshop on trade union networks in multinational corporations with young union activists from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, as well as attending an inauguration ceremony of the leadership of the autoworkers’ union SMATA, and talked to local union leaders from Bridgestone, Pirelli and other tire companies.