An incomplete executive council of the CGT umbrella union voted yesterday to join the protest organized by the teamsters union (Camioneros) on February 22, deepening divisions between the Moyano family and the government as well as exposing fault lines within the umbrella union itself.
Yesterday’s Executive Council meeting approved the document set out in Mar del Plata which was extremely critical of the Cambiemos administration and called for resistance against both the pension and labor reforms. Although quorum was reached, there were significant absences by the so-called “gordos” – unions in the services sectors – nor the important transport, construction, metallurgical and civil services unions.
The leaders of those unions have been described as eager to avoid direct confrontation with the government and are are wary of the Moyano strategy.
Hugo Moyano, the long-time leader of the teamsters and an influential member of the Argentine labor movement, and President Mauricio Macri had a brief war of words this week after criminal allegations against the union boss.
After Moyano sarcastically said that he hoped to be held in the prison cell next to Macri’s father, the president shot back that he should simply respond to the allegations in court. In particular, Moyano is under the spotlight for alleged irregularities that could amount to money-laundering in relation to the Independiente football clubs.
Moyano has chalked up the accusations as retribution for his criticism of the Macri administration. Hugo Moyano’s son Pablo has been caught up in that accusation and he has been one of the government’s harshest union critics.
Juan Carlos Schmid, Moyano’s ally in the triumvirate that leads the CGT, stressed that 27 of the 35 members of the executive council had lent their support to the protest on the 22nd of February and downplayed the absences. The protest has been backed by unions aligned with Luis Barrionuevo, head of the Gastrónomicos hospitality workers union, as well as the CTA umbrella union, the SUTEBA teachers’ union and the Buenos Aires province chapter of the Partido Justicialista.
Details of the march, including where it will take place, have yet to be finalized.
Conspicuously absent was Héctor Daer, a member of the triumvirate and a representative of the gordos.
“There’s been talk of a split for more than a year, and it isn’t true. Up to now we’ve sought work together.” He did add that “those who are absent will have to explain themselves” and spoke of nuances in the position held by Daer.
Ámbito Financiero has reported that Daer and other union members met with Labor Minister Jorge Triaca and Deputy Cabinet Chief Mario Quintana earlier this week in a bid to maintain working relationships with that faction of the CGT.
The Mar del Plata declaration noted 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.”
Yesterday Schmid said that the CGT is worried about a “situation that is very similar to January 2016, when there were layoffs of public employees and in the private sector, consumption and purchasing power was falling, there wasn’t any investment as the economy wasn’t in motion and there wasn’t any progress in stopping the inflationary process.”
The labor leader also defended Moyano wholeheartedly and noted that “the criminal acts of 10 or 20 union leaders do not represent the entire union movement, which has 38,000 members across the country.”