Since last December, the Macri administration has been implementing a process of layoffs in different ministries and state-run organizations. According to estimates provided by the state workers unions (UPCN and ATE), around 1,200 people have been laid off in little over a month. Apparently, the number is likely to increase to at least 2,600 in March, as together with the summer season, many temporary contracts end – and we’re only talking about the ones who have been laid off by the national government.
Smaller administrations such as the Buenos Aires Province and some of its districts have been implementing similar processes, meaning the overall number of people who no longer receive a state salary is actually higher.
As a result of this, unions have already carried out protests in the different places in which the layoffs have taken place. Moreover, the State Workers’ Association (ATE) conducted a national strike today, which included a march from the Obelisco to the Ministry of Modernization (the institution in charge or implementing the government’s decision) this morning.
“Unfortunately, the government has not created a space to discuss our demands, and thus we decided to strike. We have to put a stop to it, because we won’t allow for the number of layoffs to grow,” ATE Secretary General, Hugo Godoy, told the press.
Officials from the Ministry of Modernization, led by Andrés Ibarra, didn’t dispute the existence of layoffs, but told La Nación that the number is actually much lower than what the unions say, and argued that there were legitimate causes for all of them. As per an official source, “There are not massive layoffs, maybe 600 overall, about half of what they’re saying. All cases are justified, based either on absenteeism or internal evaluations.”
The state-run organizations that have laid off the most people are:
Fabricaciones Militares: 354 layoffs
Televisión Digital Abierta: 180 layoffs
Ministry of Energy: 104 layoffs
In addition to this, 16 workers from the Radio Nacional (the National Radio, although the clarification probably wasn’t needed) were laid off two days ago. Union members told the press that the employees found out they were out a job after being rejected when trying to punch in for the day. In contrast, Radio Nacional’s Vice President Pablo Ciarliero said that the layoff telegrams were sent on time, but it wasn’t his place to guarantee that they had been received by the workers.
As a result of the layoffs in Radio Nacional and Televisión Digital Abierta, workers from the state’s main media outlets – Télam, TV Pública station and Radio Nacional – went on a three-hour-long strike yesterday.
This is not the first time the Macri administration decides to drastically reduce the number of state employees. Between the end of 2015 and the first semester of 2016, around 10,000 workers were laid off.
On the one hand, government officials argued that the vast majority of the fired people were actually ñoquis, a term used to describe people employed by the government who are actually ineffective, actively unproductive and/or don’t go to work at all, swinging by the office only to collect their paychecks. The Macri administration argued that most of the people who were fired had been hired during the last year of the former Kirchner administration just because of their political alignment.
On the other hand, while unions didn’t dispute the existence of potential ñoquis and said they would approve the firings if this was proved, argued that the initiative actually hid an ulterior motive, which was to decrease the size of the state apparatus.
This year, the argument is quite similar. For example, authorities from the Chamber of Deputies recently fired around 200 people after installing a bio-metric scanner to check which employees in its payroll actually went to work, which led them to find out how many people actually didn’t.
Aside from this initiative, the Macri administration also intends to slash 20 percent of the state’s political appointees (which amount to over 500 people) and aims to save over AR $1 billion.