President Mauricio Macri announced he will veto of the Employment Emergency bill, an initiative spearheaded by the Victory Front (FpV) seeking to ban public and private sector layoffs for six months as well as compel employers to hand out double severance packages to workers they did fire. The announcement was made at Cresta Roja, the poultry company that went bankrupt and whose workers cut off highway accesses to Ezeiza airport in December.
This is the first time that Macri is using his power to veto, a legislative tool that he used 130 times during his time as mayor of the City of Buenos Aires. The veto is total (i.e. the whole law will be vetoed, not just parts of it).
“I am vetoing this law because it is an “anti-employment” law [as opposed to the bill’s name of “anti-layoffs” law] that goes against the Argentine people,” said Macri, who was flanked by Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal, Labor Minister Jorge Triaca and the Production Minister Francisco Cabrera.
Macri’s decision to veto had been announced prior to the vote in Congress’ Lower House, which passed the bill with 147 votes in favor yesterday morning. Cambiemos deputies did not vote either in favor or against the bill because all abstained or were absent at the time of the vote (there was a total of 88 abstentions). Although the Constitution gives Macri 10 days to decide on vetoing the law, the veto will happen today.
“[That law] shows that we do not trust our future. To those that told me that that it’s “not convenient” [to veto it], that it would be more convenient to “let it slide” […] I did not come here to do what is convenient for me, but to work for Argentines to have better opportunities,” he continued.
Cresta Roja has become something of a symbol for Macri’s administration, as the President considers it an example of what “should” happen on the employment front.
“I wanted to come back here because this is a demonstration of how we should work. [Cresta Roja] was another broken thing left to us by the previous administration. We did not pass a law, we sat down with the governor, the province’s production minister, with the unions and the workers […] to put Cresta Roja back on track,” explained Macri.
Cresta Roja, or Rasic S.A., went broke but prevented the loss of 5,000 jobs through an intervention by former Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli, a member of the FpV. However, Scioli allegedly cut economic aid once election season began and workers protested on and off from August 2015 because the company did not have sufficient funds to pay all workers their due and was dragging a debt worth AR $2.5 billion. Cresta Roja was reopened on April 21st under Macri’s administration, after months of negotiations.
“Since I was last here, there are 50 percent more workers and five more shifts. This proves that the way to move forward is through dialogue, there is no other way. Believe me that there is no other way. This is the [right] path,” Macri said.
There were more criticisms towards the previous administration and the opposition than the state of Cresta Roja when Macri came to power:
“The worst part is what we see on our cell phones, testimonies of former [public officials] saying that this type of law is bad. They said [in other years] that these laws do not generate more employment and are not good for progress. Why are they encouraging it now? They want to put a spanner in the works from the [political sphere]. They say ‘We don’t want this government to do well’ when the important thing is that nobody does well [with this type of law],” said Macri.
In line with his statements on teamwork and dialogue being the only way forward, Macri also made reference to the minimum wage increase, which was also agreed on yesterday at the Minimum Wage Council — an entity comprised of politicians, union representatives and businessmen — and celebrated the fact that there had been open discussions in that entity.
This agreement over the minimum wage, in which several union representatives were present, has been cited as a reason why most unions are no longer threatening to strike over the veto. Just before the announcement at Cresta Roja, the head of the Union of State Personnel (UPCN) Andrés Rodríguez stated that, “There are no protests [in the] foreseeable future from the union leadership’s point of view.”