Milei terminates thousands of state employee contracts

People hired under temporary contracts in 2023 will not return: those employed earlier are subject to review in a move that could affect 70,000 workers

President Javier Milei terminated state employment contracts of under a year in a decree published on Tuesday. The move, previously outlined in the government’s economic austerity measures, will affect thousands of state workers hired under temporary contracts between January 1st and December 31st, 2023.

In Argentina, it is common for some public employees to be hired under temporary contracts, which are often renewed yearly.

Presidential spokesman Manual Adorni said Tuesday in a press conference that “there are a little over 5,000 contracts started in 2023 that will not be renewed.” However, sources from the State Workers Association (ATE, by its Spanish initials) and the National Civilian Staff Union (UPCN) told the Herald the figure is closer to 7,000.

Workers hired under quota legislation — such as the trans/travesti labor quota — or who have other special legal protections will not be affected. The decree will also not affect those who had been working for the state before 2023 but whose contract may have changed during this year, nor those whose work is considered essential for their sector.

Staff working under temporary contracts for over a year are not necessarily in the clear, since the decree states that Milei ordered an “exhaustive review” of staff that began working before January 1st, 2023.

“In case authorities decide to renew said contracts, they will have to justify their decision by proving the need to continue with the contract,” said the decree, published in the Official bulletin on Tuesday.

The decree also changes renewals for those workers: their temporary contracts will now last 90 days, which Adorni described as a “revision period,” instead of a year. This change will affect around 70,000 workers, according to ATE.

In another decree, Milei also extended the application of a 2022 decree that freezes national public administration contracts and appointments, which will now be effective until December 2024.

The measures apply to national public administration and public entities such as the Federal Administration of Public Income (AFIP in Spanish) and the National Cinema and Audiovisual Arts Institute (INCAA).

Economy Minister Luis Caputo had already revealed the government’s plan not to renew state employment contracts of under a year in a pre-recorded announcement of austerity measures days after Milei took office. The administration has also halved the country’s number of ministries and secretariats.

Last Wednesday, Milei issued a mega presidential decree of necessity and urgency, declaring an economic, financial, fiscal, social, and administrative “emergency” in Argentina. The executive order — a DNU, by its Spanish acronym — impacts tariffs and healthcare while completely deregulating the economy, overturning laws that protect workers and consumers. It also established the first steps toward the privatization of state-owned companies.

On Friday, the president called for extraordinary sessions in Congress starting Tuesday until the end of January to treat a bill that includes a state reform, the revision of a tax for high-income workers, and other measures in line with his austerity program.

You may also be interested in: After his mega-decree, Milei resorts to Congress to reform the state


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