Argentina’s President Milei to sack 7,000 public sector workers – police attack Wednesday’s mass demonstration against ‘reforms’

CTA union banners on the December 27th demonstration

VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro has accused the Argentinian President Javier Milei of ‘eliminating all the rights of the Argentine people’ and ‘ending the economic sovereignty’ of his nation.

The Bolivarian leader continued that this South American country is experiencing ‘disaster’ and ‘madness’ after the ‘dictatorial decree’ of Milei, whom he called a ‘far-right neo-Nazi’ who is ‘turning Argentina into an economic colony’.

‘Milei comes from the most extremist sectors of the United States. He is a construction of Zionism and Trumpism to test a colonisation project on a country as important and as big as Argentina,’ said the Venezuelan president.

Recently, the Milei administration launched a policy package with 360 legal reforms to radically deregulate and liberalise the economy through a decree of urgent need (DNU), which has been actively rejected by Argentine social and trade union organisations.

Under the pretext of seeking macroeconomic stability, the far-right Argentine president seeks reforms such as the suspension of labour contracts in the public sector, the privatisation of state companies, and the change of labour laws.

Described by the opposition as an unconstitutional norm, Milei’s decree also seeks to eliminate some 7,000 jobs in the public sector.

This policy will mainly affect the workers of the National Social Security Administration (ANSES), the Comprehensive Medical Care Programme (PAMI) and the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP).

The rise of Milei to power meant an ideological fracture in relations between Caracas and Buenos Aires, which experienced tensions during the presidency of Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), which were normalised again during the presidency of Alberto Fernandez (2019-2023).

On Tuesday, Manuel Adorni, the spokesman of President Javier Milei, announced that the Argentine government will not renew around 7,000 public contracts next year and will review over one million social plans to detect irregularities.

Nor will the public contracts registered in 2023 ending on December 31 be renewed in 2024. The rest of the public worker contracts will enter a review process in the next 90 days.

These decisions will affect all temporary employees of the Federal administration and Argentine public institutions. Only workers from state-owned companies will be excluded.

Adorni maintains that some 160,000 beneficiaries of social plans would be benefiting from aid in an ‘irregular’ manner, which means that they would stop receiving public resources worth about US$12.4 million.

‘Argentines should not be responsible for this money,’ the presidential spokesperson said, adding that the Milei administration seeks to make monetary transfers transparent so that social plans stop functioning as a business for the leaders of social organisations.

More specifically, state cuts mainly will affect the workers of the National Social Security Administration (ANSES), the Comprehensive Medical Care Programme (PAMI) and the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP).

After the decree announcing the dismissal of 7,000 workers was made official, Daniel Catalano, the secretary in Buenos Aires of the State Workers Association (ATE), accused the Milei administration of leading Argentina towards a process of generalised poverty.

‘They are leading us to be like Haiti. It’s crazy,’ he said and asked people to join the mobilisations called by the General Confederation of Labour (CGT).

‘The government wants to show blood,’ Catalano stated and stressed that laying off 7,000 workers who earn US$243 a month does not solve any macroeconomic problem but only harms 7,000 families.

The Workers’ General Central (CGT), the Central of Workers of Argentina (CTA) and other social organisations called for a march on Wednesday, December 27 in front of the courts of Buenos Aires to demand the annulment of the urgency decree signed by the President Javier Milei.

In the next week, the workers will also define the date for carrying out a national stoppage against the economic adjustment policies applied by the far-right regime aligned with the shock technique.

More specifically, Argentines seek the repeal of over 300 legal reforms that directly impact labour legislation, deregulate broad sectors of economic activity, and also reduce the revenue-generating capacity of union organisations.

‘The decree of urgent need cannot be endorsed. We will not remain in simple statements, we will go into action,’ said CGT Secretary Mario Manrique, who is also the deputy secretary of the Union of Automotive Transport Mechanics (SMATA).

‘We demand the repeal of the decree. The environment for going on a national strike exists,’ said Hector Daer, the secretary of the Federation of Health Workers Associations of Argentina (FATSA).

‘We never imagined that the values innate to our history would be transgressed so easily. A decree was promulgated repealing many laws and appealing to a need and urgency that do not exist,’ he explained.

Organisations linked to the Central Workers of Argentina (CTA) will meet to analyse the adoption of forceful measures against Milei’s brutal decree.

Argentine police repressed Wednesday’s mass protest against Milei’s ‘reforms’.

The security operation ended in the arrests of several journalists who reported police brutality.

On Wednesday, the Argentine police closed some avenues in Buenos Aires to prevent the passage of thousands of citizens participating in a protest against President Javier Milei, called by the General Confederation of Labour (CGT). Six people were detained.

Following a peaceful march that concluded at Tribunales Square, a riot police operation, which was deployed by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and Justice Minister of Buenos Aires City Waldo Wolff, ‘resulted in a show of police sweeping away those who were leaving the demonstration, including journalists reporting live,’ Pagina 12 newspaperpointed out.

This occurred after a rally organised by social and union organisations began and ended peacefully amid a massive deployment of federal security forces.

In an attempt to prevent citizens from blocking the streets, security forces armed with shields and batons began to beat people and make the first arrests.

During this police operation, Martin Brunas, the press secretary of Popular Unity and a CTA member, was arrested for filming what the police were doing.

‘We were singing along Corrientes Avenue and reached Uruguay Street. They surrounded us, and we could not move. Ten police officers came and threw him violently to the ground. We were filming them,’ said a citizen accompanying Brunas.

Another victim of police repression was Agustin Ricardi, an artist who was arrested after filming the police with his camera.

‘I was walking along Corrientes when the police arrived and told me, “You cannot film here”. They hit me, threw me against the hot asphalt, and stepped on my legs.

‘I told them “You are burning me,” and they replied, “You deserve it for doing things against Milei”,’ said another detainee for reporting police brutality.

Pagina 12 reported several accounts from journalists who suffered similar attacks by federal and municipal security forces.

At least four press workers suffered injuries that had to be treated in health centres.

‘We condemn the police operation. It turned into repression and assaults on press workers. We stand in solidarity with Martin Brunas and demand that all individuals be released,’ stated the Buenos Aires Press Union (SIPREBA).