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.