Judiciary blocks Milei’s mega-decree labor reforms

Argentina’s top labor court established a temporary stay following an injunction from the CGT

The National Labor Appeals Chamber decided to suspend the labor reforms of President Javier Milei’s economic deregulation mega-decree on Wednesday. The government has appealed the decision. 

Two out of three judges ruled to establish a temporary stay against the labor chapter of the “decree of necessity and urgency” — known as DNU in Spanish — in response to a request by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) to declare it unconstitutional. The decree went into effect on December 29 and has yet to be discussed in Congress.

“This decision puts a stop to the regressive labor reform which undermines workers,” the CGT said in a press release on Wednesday. 

Treasury Attorney General Rodolfo Barra has appealed the decision and called for the case to be transferred to the Administrative Litigation Chamber, where other injunctions against the decree are set to be addressed collectively.

Many other injunctions have been filed against Milei’s DNU since he announced it on December 20, but this is the first time there has been a ruling against it. The judiciary is currently in recess for the summer until January 31, but the National Labor Appeals Chamber decided Tuesday that the CGT’s request warranted an exception.

“Several of the norms that the National Executive Branch intends to modify without the intervention of legislators are of a repressive or punitive nature, to the point that they have been included as belonging to the sphere of labor criminal law,” read the Chamber’s 14-page ruling.

In Argentina, the executive power is not allowed to legislate except in special, urgent cases that can’t wait to pass through Congress — hence, the existence of DNUs. However, Milei’s extensive presidential decree, which derogates hundreds of laws and deregulates most of Argentina’s economy, is unprecedented. Experts have contested it is unconstitutional because it does not comply with the “necessity and urgency” element and goes against the division of powers.

DNUs can be annulled by Congress. By law, presidents have to file these decrees in the parliament within 10 days of their publication so that lawmakers can address them, but Milei has failed to do so yet. Congress can still vote on it even if it’s not formally filed, but the majority of both the Lower and Upper chambers have to reject it to annul it.

The frozen reforms

The decree would eliminate penalties for companies that fail to register their employees, distort their date of hire, or misrepresent their salaries. It would also abolish an article of the labor contracts law that requires a company to pay twice as much in compensation if it fires an unregistered employee. 

The DNU would also limit workers’ right to strike or protest as well as carry out union gatherings — participating in them could be considered a valid reason to fire employees. It also would reclassify kindergarten to high school education, healthcare and utility production, transport, and distribution as “essential services” that must operate at no less than 75% capacity, thus preventing workers from carrying out massive strikes.

In addition, it would increase the trial period for new hires from three to eight months.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court admitted a lawsuit by La Rioja province against the DNU, but rejected working on it during the summer recess.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald