On Thursday, Argentine President Mauricio Macri urged businessmen and trade unionists to discuss with the government how to “improve productivity” in the country and suggested the idea of reviewing collective bargaining agreements.
Macri, who visited a factory of the renowned Argentine cookie company Havanna, indicated that the way to add value is “to add work for all Argentines.” This, he says, will help to combat poverty; which in Argentina stands at 32% of the population.
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“We need many factories like these, which use the power of new technologies to go from being the world’s breadbasket to being the world’s supermarket to being the world’s provider of gourmet foods. What do we need to do to make that happen? We need to add value to our raw materials: flour, sugar, corn, soy, and energy, we have to add value, which will increase employment for the Argentines,” he said.
The head of state stressed that to achieve this, government, business, and trade unions must sit down at the table to discuss how to improve productivity. “Productivity means that everyone does their best. Do your best. And the government must do its best as well,” added the president.
Macri said that his country currently has the “highest payroll taxes in the world” and that they affect “half of the Argentine population.”
“The payroll taxes are paid by half of the Argentines. We have the highest payroll taxes in the world. There are many things we could improve and correct; and the countries that have grown the most in recent years are the ones that have developed the strongest commercial relationships among themselves,” he emphasized.
The Argentine president’s suggestion to revise labor agreements, has brought him many criticisms from the guilds and trade unions.
“The trade union have to be an important part at the negotiation table. You have to lower the level of litigiousness. The labor agreements of the twentieth century do not function well in the twenty-first century, because we are in a different world,” said Macri.
Macri had already indicated on November 21 that maintaining previous agreements was weaken the labor market and causing unemployment. These statements irritated the leadership of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) who argued that Macri’s statements violate the rights of workers.
“If the workers are not governed by labor agreements, it will lead to instability, since if employers become angry with a worker they can change the terms of his job description, which is currently not permitted under labor regulations,” said Carlos Acuña, one of the members of the CGT leadership triumvirate, who made his views known to the president.
“Meddling in the internal life of unions, and seeking to reform the trade unions is the dream of employers,” he added in statements published by the news site Ámbito.
Meanwhile, another labor leader, Héctor Daer, described Macri’s statement as “unfortunate,” arguing that, “The president has to worry about governing, and creating jobs; not destroying the rights of workers,” he said.