Macri’s divisive new austerity measures come at huge social cost
UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Christy Hoffman has joined with UNI Americas President Hector Daer and UNI America’s Regional Secretary Marcio Monzane in strongly criticising the cynical austerity measures being taken by the right-wing Argentinian government of President Macri, whose approval rating is plummeting.
In a letter to Macri, UNI Americas has criticised the move to try and balance the budget and placate the IMF by cutting and downgrading a number of ministries, including the Ministries of Labour and Health, both vital to the lives of the Argentinian people, as well as the re-introduction of export taxes, particularly on industrial exportations.
“We believe this is not the way to solve the critical moment in the country, or to reduce the fiscal deficit. Adjustment and indebtedness policies are deepening the social crisis and leaving millions of people on the streets.
We need more investment in social fields to promote a more equal distribution of economic resources and thus boost employment, revive the domestic market and the necessary inclusion to get Argentina out of this difficult moment,” Daer and Monzane said.
In the letter, UNI Americas also indicated that its support for strike action called by the CGT for the 25 September to protest against Macri’s austerity measures.
UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Christy Hoffman met with many of UNI’s Argentinian affiliates last week, including UNI Americas President Hector Daer, who is general secretary of the CGT.
Hoffman said, “It was shocking to all of us that, on the eve of the L 20 meetings between labour and business leaders and the ministers of labour, Macri downgraded the ministries of both health and labour in Argentina, two important arms of government which oversee and protect services and the rights of workers. Workers have already experienced tremendous hardship because of the high inflation, collapsing currency and falling real wages. The reckless austerity policy supported by Macri which aims to hold up the peso on the backs of working people will once again fail to build a growing and inclusive economy. UNI stands in solidarity with Argentina’s workers and supports the strike action called by CGT. “
Background and comment
The peso’s value has fallen by 50 per cent since the beginning of the year and the Argentinian government negotiated a $50 billion IMF loan in June. It is now seeking to access more of the loan as the country heads towards a full-blown economic crisis. Macri has attempted to win favour with the IMF and his supports with a wave of unethical austerity measures including reducing the number of ministries from 23 down to 10 to 13.
The ITUC says these additional austerity measures will not only add to Argentina’s hardships, in an economy where interest rates were raised to 60 per cent recently , but the more onerous fiscal targets than those imposed by the IMF will be even more difficult to reach now that the economy is in recession. The IMF had forecast in June that GDP growth would be 0.4 per cent this year; the government recently revised that downward to -1 per cent.
Leading US economist Joseph Stiglitz has called for a new debt restructuring agreement between international creditors and Argentina, and rejected the proposed new austerity programme because it will contribute to further slowing of economic growth and impose huge social costs on the Argentinian people.