Frigerio. Photo via Alerta Online

Following yesterday’s agreement between businesses and the Macri administration to have employers hold off on laying off more workers for a period of 90 days, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio confirmed last night that if the Employment Emergency bill — which seeks to prohibit the public and private sector from firing workers for six months — makes it to the President’s desk, Mauricio Macri will veto it.

Speaking on the TV show Desde El Llano, Frigerio emphasized the government’s point of view which is that the answer to the employment problem is to generate jobs, not to prevent layoffs (i.e. “freezing” jobs):

“We have decided that one of the priorities is to create new jobs. With more jobs we will have less poverty.”

Reaching “zero poverty” is one of Macri’s three campaign goals, along with fighting drug trafficking and uniting Argentines. In addition, Frigerio alluded to the government’s position that the Employment Emergency bill would act more as an obstacle to future investment:

“For the first time in a decade, the world is looking to Argentina with the intention of investing [which is why the government] will not vote laws that hinder the process of investment that is being created in the country.”

However, by vetoing the law, Macri would incur a high political cost, as the President’s early use of emergency decrees (DNUs) has already forged a perceived “authoritarian” reputation for his administration.

As the opposition, which presented the Employment Emergency, has dug in its heels to have the bill become a reality, Cambiemos has been attempting to make the bill redundant by presenting alternatives. The latest measure was a document entitled “Commitment To Employment” that was signed yesterday afternoon by around 200 important businessmen preventing businesses from laying off employees for 90 days. However, the opposition has shown itself to be adamantly against the agreement:

“Once again, the country bears witness to an agreement between the government and the [big] businesses to avoid layoffs when [Congress] is moving forward with a bill to give workers stability backed by the law,” said José Luis Gioja, of the Victory Front (FpV).

In addition to yesterday’s agreement, Macri’s administration is also presenting a set of measures destined to aid small and medium-sized enterprises (PYMEs in Spanish), which it hopes to incorporate to the bill. According to Cambiemos, the bill as it currently stands hurts this type of company because they would not be able to comply with its demands such as the double-compensation packages they must provide laid-off workers. Today, PYME representatives will present possible modifications to the bill at 11 AM.

Despite the Macri administration’s efforts, the opposition will go ahead and discuss the Employment Emergency bill in Congress this week. The main issue is whether or not to modify the text approved by the Senate: discussions will begin in the Lower House tomorrow in an extraordinary session headed by Labor Minister Jorge Triaca. The bill itself will be debated and the outcome decided on Thursday.

In order to begin discussing the bill in tomorrow’s session, it is key that the FpV, Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front and the breakaway caucus — by caucus we mean a group of politicians that vote along the same lines — be present.