December 16, 2017
Saturday, May 21, 2016

Macri vetoes ‘anti-layoffs’ law

President Mauricio Macri announces he will veto the anti-layoffs law flanked by Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal yesterday.

Claims legislation ‘would lead Argentines into poverty’ as unions slam ‘anti-worker’ move

President Mauricio Macri yesterday vetoed the emergency labour law passed by Congress, arguing “it would lead Argentines into poverty.”

The annullment of the legislation passed on Thursday was widely anticipated with Macri having repeatedly vowed to use his powers against the first significant piece of legislation passed by Congress that the government did not sponsor.

The law, which had the backing of unions concerned over dismissals in both the public and private sectors, declared a labour emergency and imposed double severance for laid-off workers for 180 days.

Earlier yesterday, Macri reiterated his criticism of the law, saying it ran against the interests of Argentines. Union representatives and the opposition in Congress rejected the view and slammed the president, saying he was against “workers.”

Speaking at the Cresta Roja poultry plant and just over 24 hours since the Lower House approved the bill, Macri said that “in accordance with the constitutional authority that I have [as president], I am going to veto this law that for me is anti-employment, this is a law against Argentines, a law that proves that we do not trust in our future.”

Macri was flanked by Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal.

“It’s a long-standing debate, of those who ruled the country a little while ago who think the economic model has to suppress all of us. They believe Argentines cannot live in freedom and they propose laws and clamps on employment. This law will bring more poverty. Clearly, those in poverty are easier to manipulate and suppress. The growth and development of each free Argentine will allow us to decide. I believe in that,” he added.

Macri went on to list a number of policies his administration has implemented since he took office in December “There are more than one million kids reached by family allowances, benefits for pensioners, the law to reimburse the IVA value added tax on the basic basket of goods, among others.”

“Cresta Roja is an example of progress and we haven’t approved an arbitrary law or a decree,” to solve the conflict, the president said. “The only way to move on is to listen to each other.”

Macri, much like many of his ministers, accused the Peronist opposition of pushing legislation that former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner did not approve of when she was in power.

“The worst part is that today on our cellphones we can see statements made by the former president, the former Cabinet chief saying that these laws are bad just a few years or months ago. They said that these types of laws are no good for progress. And what is happening now? Why are they sponsoring them? Because they are playing politics that make life difficult. They don’t want us to have new opportunities” the president said.

The government has consistently argued that anti-layoff provisions are counterproductive because they can limit new investments. Ministers and government allies have also chalked up the legislation as part of a leadership battle within the Peronist opposition, which remains divided in various factions without a clear leader.

Unions and opposition brace for conflict

While the CGT umbrella unions did not make public comments yesterday, the more combative CTA umbrella unions responded to the veto with a vow to organize a national strike and underlining that an “immediate response” is required.

CTA Autónoma leader Pablo Micheli said that while the use of the veto is legal, he did not consider it legitimate because “all workers want this law.”

Micheli and rival Hugo Yasky of the CTA de los Trabajadores have been working together on the legislation and yesterday they repeated that they would be joining forces to plan the strike.

In turn the leadership of the three CGT factions are set to meet next week in order to agree on a unified response.

Yasky said in “the face of this demonstration of arrogance, pride and narrow-mindedness’ workers have to head to a strike once all channels of communication are exhausted.

Although the CGT was not making waves yesterday, Yasky noted that all five umbrella unions had come together to make the appeal for an anti-layoffs law before Congress and that none of them would want to “back down” on the demands made late last month on occasion of International Workers’ Day. In a rare sign of unity, the unions papered over differences and came together in a massive demonstrations of strength and the leadership demanded that the anti-layoffs bill not be vetoed. Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña stoked the fires yesterday and seemingly tried to divide the labour movement, saying that he was not surprised that the CTAs were beating the war drums as one of them “is Kirchnerite and the other has set out a more conflictive approach since day one” in reference to Yasky and Micheli respectively.

A statement issued by the Justicialist Party (PJ) also made it clear that the first veto of the Macri administration did not sit well. “President Mauricio Macri, in the same way as he did in the City of Buenos Aires vetoing more than 100 laws approved by the Legislature, has once again used the prerogative of a veto to ignore the popular will expressed in the Congress, denying active workers the benefit of job stability.”

Labour lawyer Héctor Recalde, chair of the Victory Front (FpV) caucus in the Lower House, challenged the veto and said that the “president was going to the suffer the veto of workers.”

“With all due respect for the president, this is not a law against Argentines. There is a right to a veto, but the Constitution does not protect only that right but also others for workers, such as protection against arbitrary dismissals” Recalde told C5N yesterday.

“Macri has always issued vetoes against the workers.”

To override a veto a two-thirds supermajority is necessary — that comes to about 172 votes in the Lower House. Although the opposition in the Senate is on the verge of having a two-thirds majority, the margins are smaller in the Lower House. The law was approved by the Lower House yesterday with 147 votes in favour, three votes against and 88 abstentions by the Let’s Change coalition that are certain to be unmovable.

Herald staff with DyN, Télam

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