This pandemic has made visible the seriousness of the structural problems originating in the neoliberal political and economic model over the last 40 years
Since March, CTA Autonoma has supported the national government's measures to respond to the health emergency caused by COVID19, just as they have accompanied the efforts of all social sectors to minimize the damage that this situation will cause to the entire population, taking into account the delicate economic and social situation that the country previously carried as a result of a neoliberal government that left power in December 2019.
CTA Autonoma delivered to the Minister of Labor of the Nation a program of measures and policies that from their perspective would deepen the measures of protection of the workers, in particular of those who have fewer resources and who are outside the social protection networks. Among the measures already adopted by the National Government, there are the emergency amounts granted to retirees and pensioners who receive the lowest income, and to those who receive the Asignación Universal por Hijo (AUH). These measures include the granting of work permits to all workers belonging to one of the risk groups, as well as the dispensation of those who have dependent children in school from attending workplaces.
In order to strengthen the measures, CTA Autónoma suggested the adoption of the suspension of dismissals and the penalization of them with double compensation as well as the inclusion of COVID19 among the occupational diseases. These measures were adopted and implemented. CTA also demanded the extension of one of the main tools designed to address the economic situation of the lower-income sectors, the Emergency Family Income, to the entire population. it currently does not reach some migrant communities and categories of single-income (autoemployed) workers who have been heavily affected by the pandemic. CTA also made available to the community the resources and union structures, distributing hygiene items such as chinstraps and sanitizers, masks, and dusters produced by factories recovered by workers from the plant.
However, CTA have also expressed our critical views on some initiatives implemented by the national government, such as the aid to work and production (Ayuda al Trabajo y la Producción), a tool designed to solve the difficulties of companies to pay 50% of their workers' salaries, but that by its design favored large corporations that saved money at the expense of the State instead of focusing exclusively on small and medium enterprises, the engine of employment in our country.
As a general perspective in the face of the pandemic, our centre union held the idea that there is no solution within this unequal society. From that perspective, the union centre has clearly said that our country has reached this juncture with a recent history of vertiginous regression of the social membership where hunger has become the dangerous pandemic that mainly affects children and has been surrounding for a long time a rate of 10% and poverty affects 40% of the population. It is necessary and opportune to apply a decisive redistributive exit.
CTA's proposal were oriented towards the need for an urgent income floor through programs that are consistent with each other, complementary, and adjusted to the needs of the population that requires attention, avoiding situations of asymmetry between the same groups.
What needs to be done in this pressing context is the construction of an effectively universal containment network organically integrated by a set of programs. That is why CTA has been prosecuting a proposal to guarantee an income to all households in line with a total or food basket, something that is possible because Argentina has the economic capacity to do so. The financing of an initiative should be the implementation of an extraordinary tax on the great fortunes in the country, which is still waiting to be dealt with in the national congress.
Meanwhile, our social organizations were supporting the most vulnerable populations with food and assistance by working in popular neighborhoods. In particular, our National Territorial Federation, which contains these organizations in the CTA, carried out several days of popular cookery in neighborhoods throughout the country.
On the other hand, our centre union continued contacts and meetings with national government authorities to demand greater attention to the informal sector of the economy and better working conditions for health personnel who are in the front line.
In July the CTA Autónoma took the initiative to launch the campaign "Distribute the wealth to get out of the crisis". This is derived from the National Manifesto for Sovereignty, Work, and Production, presented last May 1st by a group of social, political, and trade union organizations of the country. Universal wages, permanent tax on large fortunes, food, energy, and technological sovereignty, strengthening democracy so that there are no poor households in Argentina, and ending gender inequality are among the main axes.
On August 31, the CTA reaffirmed these strategic axes in an Extraordinary National Congress held virtually for the first time in its history, bringing together 600 congressmen from all over the country.
CTA believes that the pandemic did not invent the inequality, economic concentration, injustices, and marginality against which we have been fighting for years. But it did make them worse, showing how decades of neoliberal reforms and complicit governments only feed corporate greed that leaves the most vulnerable people unprotected in their health, rights, and jobs.
COVID19 has clearly demonstrated that the current political-economic system is not capable of providing equal and fair services to all. This is a structural problem, made worse by calculated, systematic, and intentional policies: it is not the result of the failure of individual decisions or failed random strategies.
The main lesson of the pandemic is the leading role of the State and the public sector as guarantors of a dignified life. Likewise, it is clear that a truly sustainable development model is not possible without the existence of quality public services and free access, especially with regard to health, education, transportation and energy are key. And those workers are more essential than ever. Quality public services accessible to all improve people's quality of life and are fundamental to the creation of equitable, prosperous, and democratic societies. There is no development without them.
The pandemic made visible the seriousness of the structural problems originating in the neoliberal political and economic model of the last 40 years, whose emergence is the high incidence of poverty, particularly impacting children. A significant proportion of workers do not earn the minimum wage, or who are outside the collective agreements. The Universal Income cannot be discussed outside the context of the other themes of the Congress, such as the redistribution of wealth, the tax on large fortunes, among others. Likewise, the Universal Income cannot be discussed without considering the different modalities of the work, sedimented through the successive crises, going from the formal salaried workers, the different forms of precarized workers, the unregistered workers, undercover workers, subsistence self-employed, workers in the popular economy and, gaining new prominence during the pandemic, care, and domestic workers both at home and in the community.
Income in general is far from guaranteeing subsistence, we must identify the focuses of inequality since we have paid jobs (market jobs) and unpaid jobs (domestic tasks, care work, community work) generally performed by women. Within the market jobs, there is also a strong gender wage gap.
They recognize and necessary action needed to address the inequality between registered jobs affected by different conditions: distributing work, particularly through training, reducing the working day, and limiting the number of hours per week (48 hours). It could be reduced not in terms of the length of the daily workday but by reducing it by one day a week, for example. It is also possible to distribute registered work and promote activities such as the recreational industries to generate work with rights and occupational health. To carry out campaigns against unregistered work, not only because the right of workers is violated, but also because the State ceases to receive income that would support the social security system. Unregistered work is also an unregistered economy.
CTA's will is to get out of the crisis through a more supportive and non-competitive world, with health and safety, with social protection throughout life; to deepen the relationship between Education and Work. Training and Vocational Training must be a strategic objective in the face of technological transformations. It is necessary to recognize that the country will not have parity, a dignified salary or universal income without questioning the debt and the great fortunes. The challenge of our country and in the region is to recover the role of the state in a liberating sense in order to deepen democracy, and that will be impossible if at the same time the free organizations of the people, especially of the working class, are not strengthened.
Today the role of the state has to be one of strong intervention, we must learn the lessons of the crisis of 2008 when the state was used to save the international banking-financial system, but to invest in productive development for national sovereignty. This pandemic crisis must generate opportunities for the working class nationally, regionally, internationally.
On the 24th September the city of Buenos Aires woke up full of workers of the CTA Autónoma and other social organizations who shouted on more time to the government that the hungry is a crime and that economic adjustment must be stopped. Our main claim is for work, production and sovereignty. After 3 hours of provocations and tension, the repressive forces that were blocking the access from the Province to the city opened the way to the columns of workers that cross the bridges to arrive at 9 de Julio Avenue where and join the act.
The decision of the Security Ministry, Patricia Bullrich, to block the advance of demonstrators was revoked by the pressure of a multitude that impose their will to express their repudiation to the hunger policies. Previously, the absurd and excessive repression militarizes both circulation ways in one of the main bridge to access the city. Despite the provocations, the gases, the arms exhibitions, shields and sticks and the threat of “proceed to evacuation”, the workers converged to the meeting point with many popular organisations, and proceeded organized and peacefully.
Once in Buenos Aires, thousands and thousands of people placed around the scenario. During the act, CTA leaders reaffirmed that the struggle against this economic model imposed by the national government against population interests is the only way to win. And that public health, education, justice and decent work are the main principles we must defend in this context. It’s not just about resist, it’s about to beat this government that is sacking the country and condemning 15 millions of people to the exclusion, said Pili, from the Front of Organizations in Struggle.
Leaders of the unions part from CTA and in the struggle against massive dismissals and cut of budget as the Rio Santiago Shipyard in La Plata or the National Institute of Industrial Technology in Buenos Aires, between many others, took the microphone to express their voice.
In the closing of the act, the General Secretary of CTA, Ricardo Peidro expressed that “here and now we are launching the beginning of this 36 hours strike and the same is along and across the whole country with comrades that are at the front of all the conflicts to revert this situation and beat this policies. In this moment, Macri is in EEUU to receive instructions of the IMF and putting our country to their knees in front of the transnational corporations and the financial greed. Meanwhile, our people is who suffers this policies. In addition, Peidro remembered that this strike is not an isolated action, because “we are following a long time plan of struggle and resistance against the 2019 national budget that will be discussed in the Congress during October and that certainly will mean more hunger for our people. That’s why we will be keep on fighting and building resistance against this government for a better future for us and our children”.
On 25th September, the CTA Autónoma held a press conference in the national headquarters announcing plan of action for October
From October 1 to 5 the CTA Autónoma will be holding a camp in front of the National Congress during the discussion of the Annual budget for 2019, asking for a popular budget
During the press conference realized yesterday morning in the CTA-A headquarters (Perón 3866), the leaderships of the Central evaluated the strike of 36 hours as a strong message of the citizens against the policies of hunger and economic adjustment of the national government and call the people to participate of the camp that will take place from 1th till 5th October in front of the national congress to reject the budget based on an economic adjustment dictated by IMF and propose a budget according the people needs.
The general secretary of the CTA Autonoma, Ricardo Peidro, congratulate the massive presence and participation in the national strike and mobilizations during the 24 and 25th September and set out the continuity of the struggle plan “against a government that is confirming the agreement with the IMF that will mean more hunger and better living and work conditions for our people”
Hugo Godoy, General Secretary of ATE and Deputy General Secretary of the CTA-A added that “the strike of 24th and 25th had been a complete demonstration of what Argentina is, a land of resistance. The President of the Nation met with the IMF saying that everything is alright while millions of workers in all the country, workers of pymes (little and medium companies), little farmers, workers of the popular economy say stop to this economic adjustment model. Evidently there are two Argentines and there are two development models: one is the one proposed by the government, financial speculation, and economic recession and loses of sovereignty with the subordination to the IMF and by the other side, people who fight by work, production and sovereignty. These had been the slogans with the CTA-A called to this strike of 36 hours”.
Godoy also alluded the unity showed in this fight: “We did this strike with a lot of brother organizations. At the same time there are actions in all the national territory because our struggle plan is not only against Macri and the IMF, we also have our own proposals and agenda for sustainable and real development for the country. With the same organizations we will do next week camp in front of the Nation Congress from October 1 to 5 and we will say no to the agreement of the IMF and the budget for the next year. The systematic lies of the government are expressed again in the budget and our people don’t want to be ruled by the IMF. We are going to discuss the public and private workers our agenda for health, education, women rights and for the childhood that are who most suffer these hunger policies.
The Deputy Secretary of the CTA-A and of CONADUH (university teachers union), Claudia Baigorria, expressed that “the discomfort of all the social sectors can be seen in streets every day. This is not just an attention call for Macri to change the direction but also for the governors and the legislators of the provinces to don’t vote the budget of adjustment and hunger”.
Silvia León, Gender Secretary of the CTA-A call to the September 28 mobilization in the international day for the legal, secure and free abortion: “We will stay in the streets together with the National Campaign, from the Congress to Plaza de Mayo to ask for the stop of deaths of women caused for clandestine abortion. We will talk in the camp of how the adjustment budget affects the health of the women. We will demand the budget to avoid the gender violence and the femicides and on 2nd October we will be in the Congress denouncing the job insecurity and supporting alternative projects with the women organizations as a whole. Also we will expose what G20 and IMF policies mean to our country”.