Argentina: The Macri Years

Mauricio Macri has overseen a period of economic collapse, of violations of workers’ rights, of IMF austerity and has attempted to push through anti-worker legislation. Ahead of Argentina’s 2019 election, the ITUC sheds light on the scale of the destruction and suffering inflicted on the working people of Argentina.

Economic collapse

Inflation, coupled with increases in the price of rents, public services, transport, electricity, gas and water, has prevented many workers from accessing decent housing, adequate sustenance, healthcare and education and from covering basic needs.

  • Poverty has increased from 25.7% to 32% between 2017 and 2018
  • Almost 60% of workers with a formal job don’t earn enough to keep their families above the poverty line, according to official figures
  • Half of the working population is in the informal economy*
  • The minimum wage is frozen at 12,500 pesos (292 USD) not even covering the extreme poverty line. The last update was far below inflation, leading to a substantial loss in the real value of the minimum wage.
  • Inequality has increased by 20% in 3 years, according to official figures
  • In 2018, the labour share of GDP dropped for the fourth consecutive year, standing at 45.2%
    * Universidad Católica Argentina – June 2019

Violations of workers’ rights

Since Macri came to power, trade unions in Argentina have reported a systematic increase in workers’ rights violations such as:

  • Anti-union physical assaults and threats to workers
  • Detention, prosecution and imprisonment of trade unionists
  • Attacks on trade union premises
  • Sanctioning, replacement and dismissal of workers on strike
  • Verbal attacks by the Government on the trade union movement.

IMF austerity

https://youtu.be/-VmTOskjzGI

One year since the start of the IMF programme, it has failed to deliver on its promises. The economy is still in recession, unemployment is growing, inflation has not stabilized, debt sustainability has worsened, and poverty is soaring. Although the agreement contained a binding spending floor on certain social assistance programmes, the floor was set at a level that is inadequate to truly protect the most vulnerable amid the economic hardship. The programme calls for reductions in pensioners incomes by 20%. Despite this, the IMF is doubling down on its approach of harsh austerity and pushing for the government to meet all its fiscal targets through additional cuts. In turn, this will further erode tax revenue and the economy.

Anti-Worker Labour Law

In 2017, the government failed to pass an anti-worker labour law reform that would have weakened labour protections, while increasing profits for big businesses. The legislation didn´t go ahead due to the united opposition of trade unions across the country. Many government officials however have pledged to reignite the debate if Macri is reelected.

For more information, read the ITUC’s briefing:

Doubling Down on a Failed Approach: Argentina’s IMF Programme, One Year Later