BA City and 11 provinces refuse to pay bonus for civil servants

President Fernández responded that businesses and governors should “stop thinking of their own pockets”

The governments of Buenos Aires City and 11 provinces said they would not pay the two AR$30,000 government-backed bonuses for civil servants earning less than AR$400,000 a month that Economy Minister Sergio Massa announced on Sunday, on the grounds that they don’t have the resources or that they have ongoing wage negotiations.

The governors of Santa Fe, Misiones, Córdoba, Jujuy, Entre Ríos, La Pampa, Neuquén, Catamarca, Tucumán, Salta and Santa Cruz, along with BA City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, have all come out to say they will not pay the bonus.

Mendoza, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero are the only provinces that have confirmed their government employees will receive it.

“It’s an electioneering measure [taken] without knowing what the financial situation of each province is like,” Economy Minister and Governor-elect of Jujuy Carlos Sadir said at a media scrum on Tuesday.

“The province is in no condition to pay a bonus. I completely dismiss it, unless the national government sends us the resources, because we don’t have them.”

Santa Fe Governor Omar Perotti said on a local radio station that the province would not pay the bonus, but is committed to paying raises that were discussed with the province’s civil servants unions ten days ago. 

“The national measure asks provinces to apply it. We are applying the agreement we already had.”

On Wednesday, President Alberto Fernández spoke out against the governors and the business leaders that criticized the bonus or said they would not pay for it.

“I say to those businessmen who have made a lot of money in the last two years that the time has come to distribute it,” he said during the inauguration of a road in Catamarca province. “So don’t complain when the government tells you that they have to give their workers a bonus. Let them think about the community they live in for once, and stop thinking about their own pockets.”

“This consideration also goes for some governors,” he added.

The bonus consists of AR$60,000 set to be paid in two installments in September and October for private and public sector workers — in the latter, it includes people who work for the national and provincial governments. In his announcement, Massa clarified the bonus will be considered as a part of ongoing or future salary negotiations.

Labor Minister Kelly Olmos said the payment is not mandatory for provincial and city governments. “We don’t have sovereignty over their salary policies, so we can’t impose it on them,” Olmos said in an interview with La Red radio station on Tuesday.

Private companies that don’t pay the bonus, however, will be sanctioned. Multiple Argentine business associations spoke out against the economic measure, saying the annual wage negotiations known as paritarias, and not the government, are what decide wage increases.

Misiones Economy Minister Adolfo Safrán said the bonus is mainly aimed at private companies because “many sectors don’t have salary increases set for these months.”

Buenos Aires province governor Axel Kicillof called the bonus “very interesting,” saying he would pay it as long as he has “the [economic] resources” to do so. He added that the situation will be discussed with public sector workers.

Updated 20:18


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