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Latin American unions in solidarity with Argentina’s workers

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20 March, 2024IndustriALL affiliates in Latin America and the Caribbean stand in solidarity with workers in Argentina, in light of the Milei government’s constant undermining of labour rights.

On 14 March, IndustriALL Global Union held a virtual meeting with affiliates in the region so that Argentinian workers could share information on the situation in their country and other countries could show their support.

IndustriALL’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Lucineide Varjao, said:

“Argentina is going through a major political upheaval – it’s a critical time. In Brazil, we had a reactionary, sexist and homophobic government for four years and we faced the same problems. Our colleagues in Argentina played an important role in helping us to get through that time. Now, we’re repaying that solidarity and support.

"We need to connect as workers across Latin America and the Caribbean so that we can support countries in such circumstances. We need to be strong in this struggle and stand together.”

Argentinian members of IndustriALL’s regional executive committee took the floor to provide details of the current situation. They said that prices of services, which were previously regulated by the State, have skyrocketed, inflation has picked up, prices of fuel and essential foods have risen, and workers’ purchasing power has fallen. In addition, the Ministry of Labour has been turned into a secretariat, and the government is looking to privatize state-owned enterprises.

They added that, thanks to the campaigns led by union federations, the labour chapter of the “necessity and urgency” decree – put forward by the Milei government to, among other things, restrict the right to strike and bring in changes to severance pay – had been ruled unconstitutional. The strike organized against Milei's reforms had clearly shown that workers were not willing to give up their rights, and the international solidarity could be felt.

There was also a call for solidarity from the union leaders of the 79-year-old state news agency, Telam. President Milei is looking to close down the agency, which they see as an attack on information sovereignty and freedom of expression. Argentinean union leaders asked for support from all the unions attending the event and from governments that are against Milei; their solidarity was needed to maintain hope and turn the situation around.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, said:

"Argentina's trade unions are really fighting to defend their rights in light of Milei's proposed reforms. We can’t allow such attacks against democracy in Argentina. As trade unions, we have to step up our actions, strengthen our solidarity, play a leading role in the global agenda and make use of international institutions.

"We must stand up for social justice and democracy and fight for peace, equity and better living standards for all. We can and must build a better world – let's work and fight together."