A new episode of the feud between the government and the Moyano family ensued last night, after the Labor Ministry notified the teamsters union – led by the Moyanos – it will have to pay a fine of roughly AR $809 million, a result of not abiding by a legal resolution compelling it to abandon a measure of force amidst negotiations over an end-of-the year bonus.
Hugo and Pablo Moyano immediately rose up in arms against the decision, arguing the sanction “makes no sense” and is part of the government’s anti-union policies. In a radio interview, Hugo Moyano, the virtual union leader, even though his son Pablo is its head on paper, indicated that the fine is actually aimed at bankrupting the union’s health insurance and that, if the government “tries to take that money,” he will “take all sick people to the Labor Ministry, to see if [Labor Minister Jorge Triaca] takes care of them.”
Moyano went on to say he will challenge the decision in court and assure it was made so the government could ingratiate itself with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Cristine Lagarde, in face of the US $50 billion stand-by agreement reached by the government with the Fund, following a sharp depreciation of the Argentine peso.
Lagarde arrived to the country today to attend the third G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, taking place this weekend. Lagarde will have dinner with Macri in Olivos tonight. They are set to discuss both the loan and the current chaotic state of Argentina’s economy, including the plunging peso and high inflation rates. It is the first time since the deal was made between the IMF and Argentina that Lagarde, along with the two main economists who negotiated the loan with the Macri administration, will visit the country.
“These gorilas [a pejorative way of referring to non-peronists, or conservatives] governing us make this decision right when the lady, who is the actual boss, arrives. The boss is Lagarde. Then they want to show them [the IMF] that they are strong, that they are willing to carry out policies against the workers,” said Moyano, who finished by assuring that even though the government wants to “bring the workers’ movement to its knees,” they will not succeed.
These statements go along the lines of those made by the CGT umbrella union’s Executive Board yesterday, whose three members said they will escalate conflicts between unionized workers and the government if necessary. Juan Carlos Schmid, one of the leaders of the CGT, has stated that the agreement will only lead to “infinite conflicts in a country that is already paralyzed and in recession.”
The Moyanos’ statements prompted Labor Minister Jorge Triaca to come out to reject them, arguing “there is no room for impunity” in the country. “The teamsters union did not abide by the sentence in December last year, and it did not do so in June this year. They are being fined as a result of that,” he added, indicating the union could receive a similar fine in the future for the same reason as this one.
Namely, the sanction comes as a result of the union’s refusal to abide by a so-called conciliación obligatoria: this decision is made by a Labor judge amid a conflict between employers and employees, and obliges the latter to abandon any measure of force being taken at the moment for a determinate period of time, in order for both parties to return to the negotiating table.
In this particular case, the teamsters were protesting to give visibility to their demand of a AR $9,500 end-of-the-year bonus aimed at compensating the loss of their salaries’ purchasing power, a result of the year’s high inflation rates.
The union is arguably the most powerful one in the country, as the Moyanos never hesitate to use the teamsters’ ability to virtually paralyze the country to have the union’s demands met. The last strike took place on June 14th, when the union demanded a 27 percent annual salary increase.
- Read more: Moyano Confirms Teamsters Strike for June 14
The former leader of the CGT umbrella union was at the forefront of the political conversation earlier this year, as a result of a series of adverse judicial rulings concerning alleged illegal activities conducted by him as president of Independiente football club, which he claimed the government was behind.