(Photo via AFP)
(Photo via AFP)

After having firmly opposed the Employment Emergency bill presented by the opposition which seeks to prevent more public and private sector layoffs, President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos government appears to be adopting a new strategy and is negotiating modifications to the bill.

According to La Nación, Cambiemos probably changed its stance after Renewal Front (FR) leader Sergio Massa warned them that his party would tip the scale in favor of the bill in its original form if they didn’t collaborate to find middle ground.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Cambiemos finally decided to avoid the political backlash Macri would undoubtedly incur for vetoing a law that has garnered so much popular support and presented a proposal for some modifications to the bill which they believes will mitigate the damage it would otherwise cause:

  • Circumscribe the bill’s layoff ban to big companies, thus excluding small and medium-sized companies (also known as Pymes) from it. This would be the government’s main goal, since Pymes represent 70 percent of employment in Argentina, according to figures provided by La Nación.
  • Add the government’s My First Job bill and other public infrastructure work proposals to the bill. My First Job would encourage businesses to hire young people between 18 and 24 by giving companies kickbacks and subsidies.
  • Also include other projects presented by the FR which would encourage the creation of work for young adults and senior citizens.

It is expected the FR will also also act as mediator to get the more hard-line opposition parties such as the Victory Front (FpV) and leftist parties to go easy on their own demands.

Should the negotiation be successful, the modified bill will be analyzed by a special committee in the Lower House next week. If approved, it will be sent to the Lower House floor on March 18 or 19 to be debated.

Let’s briefly recap what the negotiation is about: Last week, the Senate approved a bill which, if approved, would prevent the State and companies from firing employees for six months and would instate a double severance package for companies that do fire any. Macri harshly criticized the bill numerous times arguing that “We [the country] already tried laws that forbade [firing people] in 2002 and that did not bring more jobs, it destroyed it.” For this reason, he made it clear he would veto it if ever made his desk. Well, until now.