Former head of the AFSCA protesting at the Centro Cultural Néstor Kirchner after 600 employees were fired. Sabbatella himself was removed from office by the government. Photo via Infonews

Today is set to be an important day for ñoquis. Not the pasta, of course, but public sector workers who’ve appropriated the term, which refers to government workers who allegedly collect paychecks despite being actively unproductive. As the number of public sector layoffs reach over 20,000, there will be not one, but three marches against President Mauricio Macri.

What’s Going On?

All three demonstrations are protesting against Macri’s administration and its policy of combing through public institutions, firing employees left, right and center. According to the government, it’s a question of saving money, getting rid of inefficient people or pro-Kirchnerite political activists and in some cases, terminating workers with expired contracts. For the laid-off workers, it’s a question of political persecution and being suddenly and unjustly deprived of their livelihoods with which they support their families.

A sticky situation, to say the least, and such protests have on occasion degenerated into violence. For more on the huge controversy surrounding the massive public sector layoffs, check out this article by The Bubble.

Just this morning, 54 people working at the Casa Rosada were laid off and these standpoints came into play once more. “We aren’t [from the Campora] or anything,” said one worker, referring to the Kirchnerite youth organization which the previous administration has been accused of hiring just to fill the ranks with their supporters. Meanwhile, an official statement announced that those fired ranged “from people who never went to work to people who didn’t fulfill their schedule or tasks.”

All three demonstrations are also using the hashtag #29Ñ, which echoes the hashtag used in the 2012 protests against former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the first and largest being #8N (November 8th). Even scheduling their protest for the 29th of the month is significant, as it is when Argentines traditionally eat ñoquis (see what they did there?).

The Three Protests

“The March of the Ñoquis” is set to take place today at 6:00 PM at the emblematic Plaza de Mayo.

Photo via Facebook (Screenshot)
Photo via Facebook (Screenshot)

What’s interesting here is the way that these workers have appropriated the derogatory term “ñoquis.”

At 5:00 PM, after a week-long “Macri, stop” (Macri, pará la mano) social media campaign, there is also set to be a march at the Obelisco. The head of the campaign, Guido Carlana, said that “the only [existing] ñoquis are the ones you eat.” Carlana spoke on the radio show “Te Quiero A Las Diez” this morning on the nature of today’s protests:

“There isn’t a strong, widespread movement or a national strike to accompany [the workers] […] But we are staging a ñoqui protest in different parts of the country. We have organized a protest at the Obelisco and afterwards are going to join the demonstration in front of the Kirchner Cultural Center.”

That would be the third march that is scheduled for today, in front of the CCK at 4:00 PM today under the rallying cry “Not one more layoff” (Ni un despido más), stating that:

“We are not ñoquis […] The CCK will not open without its workers. For the re-hiring of all the laid-off workers from the center.”

This comes after 600 of the 710 employees of the new cultural center were fired: given that the center supposedly cannot function without at least 400 staff members, it seriously will not open unless something is done.

Despite the fact that all three marches are not coordinated by one single organization, as Carlana mentioned, there is some level of consensus regarding the current administration’s hunt for ñoquis.