Photo via Los Andes

Sergio Massa, the former Renewal Front (FR) presidential candidate and until recently an important ally to President Mauricio Macri, yesterday called Macri’s administration out for, in his view, resorting to the same “with me or against me” rhetoric used by the former Kirchner government, except to cater to the other extreme of the political spectrum: the wealthy.

“[The administration] reacts with the same “friend-or-enemy” logic as the previous government. Don’t become Kirchnerism for chetos [posh people],” Massa fired while speaking on the television program Desayuno Americano (“American Breakfast”).

Massa was referring to Macri’s continued opposition to the Employment Emergency bill which seeks to prohibit private and public sector employers from laying off workers for a period of six months. The bill was approved by the Senate last week and is now pending a vote in the Chamber of Deputies. On Monday, Macri gave a press conference beseeching politicians, including Massa, to not support the bill, which he believes will stop him from “making the State more efficient” — his objective behind the massive layoffs.

Voicing what important union leaders proclaimed last Friday during the Workers’ Day rally held in the City of Buenos Aires, Massa argued that Macri’s policies have primarily benefited the upper echelons of society to the detriment of workers and the middle class.

“During its first quarter, the government has made a giant effort to side with businesses while workers and the middle class keep losing out,” Massa said.

One of Macri’s focuses has indeed been making the country attractive to foreign investment, by ditching currency controls and getting out of default, primarily. But back home, belt-tightening measures meant to aid this process of entering international markets are hitting people hard. Rampant inflation and phenomenally higher utility bills are indeed affecting the middle and working classes more than wealthier sectors. Has he forgotten them, as Massa and union leaders charge?

Photo by Juliette Lyons/The Bubble.
Photo by Juliette Lyons/The Bubble.

Macri has repeatedly said he feels for Argentines and that he’s doing his best to make his policies sting a little less. He’s said he intends to create “quality employment” (i.e. work that generates growth), through such projects as the My First Job bill, which would encourage businesses to hire young people between 18 and 24 by giving companies kickbacks and subsidies, public infrastructure works, and other measures. In his address to the press on Monday, he claimed that 60,000 jobs had been created since he took office.

Well, that’s half of the purported 120,000 workers who’ve been laid off since he stepped into the Casa Rosada.

The Employment Emergency bill was presented by members of every opposition party in a Lower House committee in charge of supervising labor legislation back in mid April. Macri has made it clear that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will veto it.