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October 24, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014

Devaluation slows Tierra del Fuego

Assembly plants have been a key part of Tierra del Fuego’s economic growth in recent years.

Union says 3,000 jobs are in danger, Capitanich to meet governor

Leaders from the Metal Workers Union (UOM) in the southern province of Tierra del Fuego yesterday demanded the reinstatement of 3,000 factory workers, whose hiring was halted following a series of business problems relating to imported parts.

“A total of 2,993 people were not able to return to their workplaces,” said Oscar Martínez, head of UOM in the city of Río Grande. The situation “must return to normal” as soon as possible, he added.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich will meet today at Government House with Tierra del Fuego Governor Fabiana Ríos “to analyze the current state of the province,” sources from the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration said.

There are growing concerns that the province’s recent growth based on assembling imported parts is now at risk due to the devaluation that automatically makes these components more expensive.

Unfulfilled promises

Martínez explained employees wishing to return to their posts were already working in different factories on temporary contracts.

Companies promised to recruit them for the first part of the year, but the drop in production caused by the lack of availability of foreign currency and problems with the Advance Import Affidavits (DJAI) delayed the decision, the UOM leader added.

Companies were given until February 12 to answer to the union’s demands.

“Workers have already outlined a stuggle plan” in case companies “fail to adopt the necessary measures to maintain jobs,” Martínez concluded.

The limits of ‘promotion’

In August 2009, Congress passed a law designed to put Tierra del Fuego on an equal footing with the Brazilian city of Manaus regarding the manufacturing of electronic goods in order to boost job creation in the country’s southernmost province.

Although critics have pointed out that these factories are basically assembly plants where imported parts are put together, regulation to boost appliance manufacturing has led to an almost all-Argentine market for mobile phones, air-conditioners, monitors and global positioning systems (GPS).

According to UOM figures, these policies have led to the employment of 16,400 workers — in a province of 127,000 habitants.

However, the same sources say only 50 percent of those workers actually enjoy full employment benefits.

Last week, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof reportedly met with the leaders of some of the companies working in the district to analyze potential changes to the “industrial promotion” scheme.

Last Friday, provincial Industry and Productive Innovation Minister Carolina Yutrovic confirmed that she and Ríos will meet today with Capitanich at Government House.

“We believe that, apart from listening to workers and business leaders, it’s important that they hear the voice of the provincial government,” Yutrovic said. The Fabiana Ríos administration “has a lot to bring to the table, including proposals and objective information regarding the current situation of industries in the province.”

Herald staff with DyN

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