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Thursday, October 20, 2016

CGT, gov’t agree to non-binding bonus

The thirty members of the roundtable of unionists, business leaders and government officials are seen in yesterday’s meeting.

Extra end-of-year payment of 2,000 pesos resisted by some chambers; only a ‘reference,’ says Peña

The weeks-long rounds of talks between the CGT umbrella union and the government saw an agreement signed yesterday, but it was a non binding one.

Representatives from the CGT and President Mauricio Macri’s administration signed a declaration calling for a 2,000 pesos extra end-of-year bonus to be paid by private sector firms to their employees, but they said this was only a “reference” for whatever negotiations took place.

The agreement was also backed by some of the most important and powerful business chambers in the country, with the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA), the Argentine Construction Chamber (CAC), the ADEBA and ABA banking chambers, the Argentine Rural Society (SRA) and the Argentine Chamber of Commerce (CAC) all signing it, but other chambers quickly came out to say they were not planning to pay it.

Speaking after the meeting, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña said that what was signed was a “political declaration” and “not a decree or a judicial order,” making it clear that the payment of the bonus was not mandatory.

The agreement is also only directed at the private sector, as Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay and Labour Minister Jorge Triaca both said that an extra payment for state workers was not discussed, with the former arguing that each province would have to consider what they can offer without the involvement of federal authorities and the latter saying that the Modernization Ministry was assessing how much could be paid to employees as an extra end-of-year sum.

Triaca also said that help for small and medium-size firms could be on the table in order to facilitate the possibility of them making the extra payment, while he rejected suggestions that the extra 1,000 pesos for families who receive payments for the Universal Child Allowance (AUH) welfare programme could be paid once per child instead of once per family.

Immediately after the agreement was signed, the president of the Argentine Confederation for Mid-Sized firms (CAME), Osvaldo Cornide, said that businesses would “not pay” the extra end-of-year bonus, saying that those funds were already allocated in the salary hikes agreed with unions previously.

Potential dissidents

The bonus is likely to kick further down the line the possibility of any CGT strike, which was in any case already seen as a distant possibility. The CGT could now argue that the bonus negotiated was 1,000 pesos higher than in initial talks.

But other unions are not likely to have the same reaction, as the two main leaders of the country’s other umbrella unions, the CTA’s, Hugo Yasky and Pablo Micheli, said on Tuesday that a strike was on the cards if salary negotiations were not re-opened, among other demands.

Members of the two CTA factions have at times suggested that the CGT is being too lenient with Macri’s administration despite the plunge in workers’ purchasing power seen over the last few months.

There has also been some dissidence within the CGT.

Most notably, Pablo Moyano, the son of influential teamsters’ union leader Hugo Moyano, who has been more at odds with the government than others inside the CGT, was a last-minute cancellation to yesterday’s negotiations.

Others, such as CGT’s bank clerks union, have also been staging strikes in their sector demanding higher salaries and less income taxes.

Herald staff

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