Chaco, Entre Ríos & Misiones revert increases alleging “extortion”Sunday, January 5, 2014
Provincial police salary hike deals seem to go awry
Wage hikes for Argentine provincial police forces negotiated last month amid looting and vandalism leading to the killing of 12 people started to go awry after three provinces announced that they will refuse to grant them alleging that they were signed under pressure.
The provinces backpedalling from the increases, which in some cases reached 50 percent, are Chaco, Entre Ríos and Misiones, and there is speculation that others may follow suit.
In Misiones, Governor Maurice Closs scrapped a 0.99 peso levy he enforced on Wednesday on yerba mate production with the intention to fund the police wage hike, and he is considering to ask the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to allow for an increase in the retail sale price of yerba mate.
In Entre Ríos, police officers and their families marched on Friday in the cities of Concordia and Gualeguaychú to reject Governor Sergio Urribarri’s decision to revert the wage hike signed in December to end a mutiny.
Backpedalling started in Chaco, when Governor Juan Carlos Baci-leff Ivanoff declared the agreements “null and void” and said that courts could press charges of “mutiny” against the protesters.
“In Chaco the agreements are null and void. I have filed a lawsuit before the Prosecutor General and courts to investigate the incidents. More than 300 people have been summoned. Most of the protesters were non-commissioned officers who could be charged with ‘mutiny’,” he said in late 2013. He added that we will not pay hikes “under pressure” and also because funds are not enough. As a result, the minimum wage for police officers has fallen to 6,000 pesos from 8,000 a month.
Jorge Capitanich — who in November took leave as Chaco governor to become National Cabinet Chief — told the daily La Nación that although he received comments from several governors “nobody told me anything special. In many cases they negotiated hikes scheduled for the whole of 2014. As a consequence, this would not upset the public sector wage policy standards in Catamarca or Neuquén, who negotiated under reasonable conditions.”
Other provinces to abide by the hikes
In Corrientes, Governor Ricardo Colombi said that he will stick to the increase because there were no extortionate demands, although he urged the nation to send his province its chunk of federal revenue, and warned that recent mutinies in other provinces will have a “contagion” effect.
“Our situation was different. We did not face extortionate demands, there was no looting, and we were able to dialogue,” he replied when asked about the provinces that took back the hikes.
But he also said: “The bottom line is that as long as the nation continues to get 78 percent of shared federal revenue and the provinces 22 percent, we will face wage problems.”
Referring to the mutinies he added: “of course they will have a “contagion” effect because there is no doubt that the problem is serious, inflation is for real.”
In Río Negro, Governor Alberto Weretilneck, confirmed that he will stick to the hike whereby police officers will get a minimum salary of 10,000 pesos. However, he added that the police academies of Viedma, Cipolletti, Sierra Grande and Bariloche will not open this year and planned investments in police precincts will be suspended.
In Tucumán, Governor José Alperovich also said that he will abide by the agreement to grant a 35 percent increase on minimum wages. This sparked demands from other civil servants who could block roads in the Valles Calchaquíes area.
Córdoba Governor José Manuel de la Sota, the first to face mutinies, will abide by the accord. Santa Fe will also honour the agreements.
Maverick CTA faction’s demands & warnings
Separately, Pablo Micheli, the leader of the dissident faction of the CTA umbrella union, said that union members of that organization will demand a salary increase of between 30 and 35 percent during collective bargaining and he did not rule out a national strike in March together with the dissident faction of the CGT umbrella union led by teamster Hugo Moyano, a former ally of Fernández de Kirchner.
“Unions think that if a police officer who just joins the force gets 8,500 pesos, why then a construction worker, or a nurse or a teacher will get less?”
DyN with Herald staff
Two jailbreaks in Santa Fe.
Four immates fled yesterday from a prison in Vera, in the northern part of the province. On Wednesday, six other immates escaped from the Coronda’s penitentiary unit in Santa Fe as well.