After social organization Barrios de Pie took to the streets in protest yesterday, the Government agreed to backtrack on their decision to cut people from the social program “Building Employment.”
To recap, many of the city’s main intersections were blocked off yesterday, as community organizations came out in protest against the government’s decision to cut people from a social program which allocates recipients AR $4,000 per month.
The estimated number of people that were affected by the cuts was originally disputed: the Government argued that there were 7,000 people that would be effected, while the organizations’ estimates were as high as 20,000. However, after the meeting, the groups of protestors seem to have accepted the government’s lower figure. “Even if there are 7,000, it’s insane. They are looking to cut spending on a sector that’s having a rough time. We agreed that they will review the decision and backtrack,” Barrios De Pie leader, Daniel Menéndez, told La Nación.
Labor Minister Jorge Triaca defended the cuts, saying that the 7,000 people were cut because they failed to present the required paperwork to become eligible for the program. “It’s the necessary condition in order to receive the welfare benefits,” Triaca said.
In a nutshell, these projects involve either constructing or repairing buildings on state-owned land; if the proposed project is approved by the Government, people can get onto the scheme and receive the financial benefit.
However, after yesterday’s meeting, the Ministry announced their intention to “give them more time to comply with the measures we demand in order for them to benefit from the program.”
Tensions have been escalating between the Government and key community and development organizations – branded by La Nación as a “triumvirate of picketers” made up of Comisión de los Trabajadores de la Economía Popular, (CTEP), Barrios de Pie and Corriente Clasista Combativa (CCC) – for quite a while.
The Government had previously hoped to have settled these tensions, after passing the Social Emergency Bill late last year. This, along with the AR 30 billion figure it entails, aims to achieve social goals, and promote the rights of informal workers. Yet the Government’s failure to put their words into action has led organizations to take to the streets.
On December 6, 2016, the social organizations held another protest to demand Congress officially authorize the so-called Social Emergency Law.
Then earlier this month a meeting scheduled between the Government and the Popular Economy Council (made up, in part, by the same social groups) was postponed. The meeting, in which the first steps in implementing the Social Emergency Law would be taken, has been postponed until mid-March.
Although Minister of Social Development Carolina Stanley stated that this delay was the protesters’ own decision, it certainly doesn’t chime with the rest of their rhetoric; the groups are putting pressure on the Government to implement the law as soon as possible.
Juan Carlos Alderete, leader of CCC expressed his belief that the Government is intentionally trying to put off implementing the law. In an interview with La Nacion, he said “We can’t believe how long things are taking.” Meanwhile, in the CTEP camp, the cries are similar: “the Social Emergency Law needs to be applied quickly, because the situation among the neighborhoods can’t wait.”
The Government will destine 43 percent of its budget for 2017 to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Development (not taking into account the additional 30 billion pesos from the Social Emergency Law) compared to 39.8 percent last year.