Gerardo Martinez, leader of the Construction Workers Union (UOCRA) and Secretary of International Relations of the CGT umbrella union, and Pedro Villagra Delgado, leading the opening of the L20 (Photo via Telam/ Raúl Ferrari)

Argentine union leaders and government officials part of the L20 (Labour20, which represents the interests of workers and unions throughout the world) commenced their conversations in Buenos Aires yesterday in the Construction Workers Union (UOCRA) headquarters in preparation for the summit. L20 President and UOCRA Secretary General Gerardo Martínez opened the discussions stating that the agenda for the L20 is to “consecrate the rights of workers throughout the world” as well as “universalize social justice.”

Martínez admitted that developing countries need to have discussions to put in place competitive “rules of the game,” but urged for a “fair transition” as part of this change as to not generate more unemployment or employment losses. “We must put emphasis on making strong decisions which can create investments in a productive economy. We must put in place measures that allow for the development of work and productive growth in the world,” he said.

Different union leaders participate of the L20 launch in UOCRA headquarters. (Photo via Télam/ Rául Ferrari)
Different union leaders participate of the L20 launch in UOCRA headquarters. (Photo via Télam/ Rául Ferrari)

 

In addition, officials from powerful unions like the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and Argentine Workers’ Central Union (CTA) made it clear that they want a seat at the table to create change and “not just a photo opportunity.” The G20 establishes a focus on the “future of work”, and the L20 wants to be debating alongside the entrepreneur-lead Business20 (B20) regarding where the workers themselves see their futures headed. Leaders hope to not only discuss the future of the role of unions and workers in the world, but also to address the present situation.

Argentina’s G20 “Sherpa” Pedro Villagra Delgado affirmed that the government also does not want just mere photos. Villagra believes that concrete ideas can be formed from these meetings to be brought forward for the G20. He argued that these discussions can set some of the priorities for the summit and urged that the Macri administration wants the G20 to not be solely about the administration, but Argentina as a whole.

The L20 will hold a series of meetings throughout the year and one of its challenges will be to work with the B20 to create a document regarding the working sector to be submitted  for consideration for the Final Declaration of the summit.

The Under Secretary for Social and Labor Policies of the Ministry of Labor, Esteban Eseverri, recognized the challenges all industries are facing right now in the changing worldview, commenting that there must be a process to make these industries equitable and sustainable over time.” Eseverri ultimately lauded Argentina’s labor movement, stating that the country should be proud of its achievements and that in large part “this country is what it is because of its workers.”