Union leaders today met in Mar del Plata and issued a strongly-worded press release against the government. (Photo via Télam / Alejandro Moritz)

Labor leaders meeting in Mar del Plata have spoken out against the government, criticizing the recent megadecree to modernize the state and labor reform plans, ensuring that tensions increase ahead of the upcoming wage negotiations.

With the presence of Hugo Moyano of Camioneros (teamsters), Luis Barrionuevo of the Gastrónomicos (Hospitality workers), Julio Piumato of judicial workers, Norberto Palazzo of the bank workers union, and others, union frustration with the government boiled into a strongly-worded press release that also called for judicial action against the newly-sanctioned pension reform. Juan Carlos Schmid and Carlos Acuña, two of the three members of the CGT umbrella union’s leadership, were present.

After complaining about what they called amendments to the deals that had been agreed to in private and the end of a dialogue, the unionists said that the only thing that the government had achieved was “reducing the purchasing power of salaries and pensions, forgive and whitewash the debts of tax evaders, reduce the salaries of pensioners and social programs, fill Argentine supermarket shelves with foreign products that threaten Argentine labor, indebted the country in an unheard manner, make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”

As such the unions have promised to actively challenge new pension law and provide free legal advice to union members seeking to file lawsuits as well as to seek the repeal of the reform. In addition they clearly announced that they were against the labor reform that is on the government’s agenda for 2018. They also rejected the decree on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and promised to rally support among organizations that agreed with the positions laid out in the press release. The terms of the release will be forwarded to the CGT as a whole for its consideration.

The press release also suggested that the government needed an adversary, suggesting that was the reason why unions leaders have been linked to corruption cases recently. Several union leaders have been arrested or placed under investigation lately.

One of the most recent, Marcelo Balcedo, who is in custody in Uruguay on money-laundering charges faced more bad news yesterday after a search turned up US$ 3.8 million in cash in safe deposit boxes in a Montevideo bank. Balcedo is the leader of the SOEME union.

About US$ 3.8 million in cash was found today in safety deposit boxes belonging to Marcelo Balcedo in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)
About US$ 3.8 million in cash was found today in safety deposit boxes belonging to Marcelo Balcedo in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

Searches were also being conducted in Punta del Este, Uruguay. According to Télam, when Balcedo was arrested a note detailing US$ 7 million in cash and where it was distributed was found. Today’s search was part of the effort to find that cash.

Balcedo was arrested in Uruguay in early January with half a million US in cash, assault weapons and luxury cars.