June 20, 2013
Gov't rejects Border, Coast Guard demands
7,000-peso wage floor ‘impossible’
Cabinet Chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina yesterday rejected the demand by Border and Coast Guards for a minimum wage of 7,000 pesos, describing it as “impossible.” In a press conference called to address the issue, Abal Medina, accompanied by Economy Minister Hernán Lorenzino, said that “nobody in public administration is paid that much.”
Protesting security forces had been expecting their petition delivered on October 4 would be responded to yesterday, but Abal Medina said he had not organized the press briefing to “respond to any petitions.”
The Border and Coast Guards rejected the ministers’ statements outright, with Border Guards spokesman Raúl Maza accusing the government of “laughing in our faces.”
The Border Guards, whose protest reached the week mark yesterday, and the Coast Guards, in their eighth day, vowed they would continue with their protest until they received an official response to their demands.
Last night, protestors called on their comrades-in-arms to leave their posts only 50 percent attended, and a group of protesters marched to Plaza de Mayo.
“What we are doing here is not a response to any petitions,” said the Cabinet Chief, who yesterday approved the continued implementation of controversial Decree 1307, which some guards claim reduces their wages by 60 percent, because it “formalizes contracts and provides the conditions for improved wages in the future.”
Abal Medina also accused the protests of obeying what he described as a “trial industry.” The Cabinet chief announced yesterday morning that the government would launch a series of legal cases against law studios reperesenting high-ranking, middle-ranking and retired Border and Coast Guards, who were accused of “taking advantage of the chaotic payment of wages for these security forces.”
When asked a direct question on the issue, Abal Medina ruled out a minimum wage of 7,000 pesos because, among other reasons, “there is not a clear pattern nor a precise norm for the payment of wages,” adding that as a result, it would be necessary to determine wages “case-by-case.”
In terms of sanctions to be imposed, Abal Medina said that “nobody will be sanctioned for having protested” but added that “the authorities cannot permit” events such as those that occurred when a group of officers attacked a higher-ranking officer leaving a building during protests last week or “prevent Economy Minister (Lorenzino) from leaving a space for two hours.”
According to the minister, the implementation of Decree 1307 will benefit “the immense majority” of Border and Coast Guards because they would receive almost 80 percent of their salary in basic pay, rather than as supplementary, which is how they presently figure. “The immense majority of the security forces will see an improvement in their situation next month and no type of salary reduction,” insisted Abal Medina.
The ministers also blamed a “trial industry” between officers, law studios and lawyers for being behind the protest, stating that “the only people who will suffer from this measure are those who were taking advantage of the system previously, which is the absolute minority.”
The Border and Coast Guards yesterday angrily rejected Abal Medina’s statements, with Border Guard spokesman Raúl Maza describing the response as “laughing in our faces” and insisting that “we are not going anywhere.”
The Border Guards, who have been demonstrating outside the headquarters of the security force, the Centinela building in Retiro, Buenos Aires, for a week, stated yesterday that they would remain outside the building “until we have an official response” to their demands, despite comments by Abal Medina that no petition would be responded to. The Coast Guards remained outside their headquarters in Puerto Madero.
Last night, Maza stated that the protest would not be lifted, and that “we have called on our comrades to abandon 50 percent of their posts. There will still be Border Guards at every post, but 50 percent will remove themselves.” A group of protestors took the opportunity to march to Plaza de Mayo to demand a government response.
Herald with DyN, Ambito.com