Argentina: The Left and Workers´ Front – Unity Rejects the Austerity Bill Against Retirees and Workers to Pay the Debt

With the pretentious name of “law of social solidarity and economic recovery”, the government of Alberto Fernández and the Frente de Todos has sent a true austerity plan to Congress for express treatment. In addition to delegating super powers to the President, the heart of the measures represents the robbery of retirees´ mobility. The main objective of all the measures this law and several decrees of necessity and urgency apply is to guarantee the payment of the external debt in the future, sending Argentina on a path of austerity against workers and the people. To the point that the first article authorizes the renegotiation of the debt, that is, recognizing the agreement with the IMF and paying a usurious, illegitimate and fraudulent debt.

The Fernández-Fernández government erases, with the stroke of a pen, the equation that automatically updates all pensions, taking inflation into account, while nullifying the retirement mobility of special regimes, affecting more than 250 thousand retirees, among whom are national and university teachers, and scientists and researchers. All in exchange for a single payment of ten thousand pesos for those with the minimum pension. This happens at the same time that the financial income tax is removed, favoring the business of the speculative funds, and 4% of the retentions to the oil companies that plunder natural resources are reduced. The modest increase in withholdings to agricultural capital, updating the measure that Macri had taken, is also destined to pay the debt. This is what the new government calls “reviving the economy.”

The “freezing” of utilities rates is another maneuver. In the first place, it ratifies and avoids ending the privatized public services regime inherited from Menem. At the same time, it consolidates the brutal hikes implemented in the last years. Just last year, the rates of basic services increased more than 85% despite the multimillion-peso subsidies granted by the state itself. A far cry from the project of rolling back the rates to November 2017 that the PJ-Kirchnerism had advocated. Once in power, they govern for the capitalists who benefit from the plundering of public services.

The presidential decree that imposes double compensation on new layoffs comes after the bosses have dismissed massively and closed factories. In the last year alone, official figures show that 135 thousand industrial jobs were lost. This measure is also cosmetic, not only does it not prohibit dismissals and suspensions, but it also allows employers to request a “crisis prevention resource” that, in collusion with the union bureaucracy, allows them to dismiss, even for less than one simple compensation. The “double compensation” decree contrasts with the “prohibition of dismissals” law that the PJ-Kirchnerism itself had voted and was vetoed by Macri. The demagogy of their times in the “opposition” is long gone.

Now that he is in government, Alberto Fernández – in conjunction with the SMATA (auto workers´ union) bureaucracy – has launched a “social contract” that combines all kinds of tax concessions to employers, along with a new labor regime of super exploitation. This is what has already been implemented in the Vaca Muerta oil agreement, with fatal consequences for workers. The plan of suspending all the collective bargaining “for six months” that is being planned with the union federations completes the circle of a labor reform “agreement by agreement” and an unprecedented wage reduction for all workers in Argentina. The new bill grants the Executive the power to give increases according to its own criteria. This measure is intended to take away from workers and their organizations the right to demand and fight for a salary that meets the needs of each worker and their families and their working conditions.

This law is part of a more global government plan, which is to promote a “social pact” with the UIA (Industrial Union of Argentina), the big employers, the union bureaucracy and the Church, to call on workers to wait, in defense of capitalist profit

The Left and Workers´ Front – Unity denounces this new attack on retirees and workers at the hands of a law to please the IMF and the usurers of the debt. We call on all workers to promote assemblies and meetings in workplaces to reject the capitulation of the bureaucratic union leaderships who agree with the government behind the workers’ backs. We demand a general increase of salaries with automatic updates according to real inflation until the family basket is covered; mobile 82% for all pensions and a minimum that covers the basic basket; the reinstatement of all workers laid off in recent years; the reopening of closed factories under the control of their workers; an effective prohibition of layoffs; the distribution of working hours without affecting salaries; a public works plan to generate genuine employment; unrestricted collective bargaining; the nationalization of privatized companies under workers control; the non-payment of the debt and an immediate break with the IMF. The capitalists must pay for the crisis, not the workers!