Photo via mzdol.com

Labor Minister Jorge Triaca apologized yesterday for the audio message in which he can be heard insulting a – now former – employee of his, called Sandra Heredia. The audio has been making the rounds ever since it was published by online news site OPI Santa Cruz as part of a broader report concerning Heredia’s working conditions – like her claim about working on the informal side of the economy.

“I apologize for the outburst that is making the rounds. It was in the context of a personal dialogue, it’s not in line with my way of acting nor does it reflect my way of being, and I regret that some are taking advantage of it,” the tweet reads.

Later, in an interview with Radio Mitre, Triaca further explained what led him to send the message: “On the weekends I go to my quinta [a kind of estate that people own outside of the city] and meet with people from work. I go with my car and then get my wheelchair, which is in there. Since I couldn’t find Sandra, and I had warned her the day before that she had to be there, [the insult] was a result of that stress about having to meet people without my chair.” Triaca went on to say that Heredia kept working for four more months at the quinta and that he personally apologized to her.

Regarding Heredia’s accusation about being an unregistered worker and not being granted a severance package after being fired, Triaca only said: “She has a formal contract.”

In an interview after the news surfaced, Heredia said she only became a contracted worker in 2015, 20 days before the presidential elections. However, she assured she was only paid half her salary legally, the other half still being under the table.

The short WhatsApp audio message that brought the firing to the forefront of the conversation was published two days ago. In it, Triaca insulted Heredia, who for five years worked in a quinta that the minister owns in the district of Boulogne, in the Buenos Aires Province.

The minister can be heard telling Sandra Heredia not to come “because I’ll tell you to fuck off, you are an idiot.”

Heredia offered her explanation on what led Triaca to send her the message: “It all began on a Saturday, when I didn’t get to open the door for him on time and he got angry. I want to clarify that it’s not like I didn’t go [to the quinta], I was only 10 or 15 minutes late because my bus was late and I didn’t get there a few minutes before him, as I always did,” she said.

Heredia then said that when she asked for a raise, the minister instead got her a job at the Union of Maritime Workers. The union was placed into trusteeship in late 2016 after its head, Omar Suárez, was removed and preemptively arrested, accused leading an unlawful association which blackmailed business leaders of the maritime trade sector, as well as embezzling money from the union’s coffers.

However, she explained that when either Triaca or his secretary told her there was an event [at the estate], she had to leave her job there and dedicate all her time to organizing it. Today morning, Omar Suárez’s lawyers pressed criminal charges against Triaca for having used his influence to appoint Heredia at the union.

“With these two jobs I would come and go all the time, the day wasn’t long enough. I didn’t have a life. I would leave the office, go to the quinta, leave it at 3 AM and then left for the union at 9 AM. Most days were like that,” she said. Today,

This isn’t the first personal scandal that is giving the Labor minister a headache. Back in December, he was accused of nepotism when his sister Mariana Triaca, was appointed to the board of the Argentina’s Banco Nación (National Bank).

Even though Mariana Triaca was previously working as a board adviser, her case drew inevitable comparisons to Delfina Rossi’s, who in 2015 was appointed to the same post when her father, Agustín, was Defense Minister under then-President Cristina Kirchner. Back then, the news resulted in widespread accusations of nepotism, especially from the detractors of the Kirchner administration. To this day, Mariana Triaca still holds her post at the Banco Nación.