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Perfil

ARGENTINA | 25-03-2024 15:40

Milei administration sharpens chainsaw against public employees

Government ready for a new onslaught against state employees – Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse is in charge of monitoring the issue. Around 15,000-20,000 expected to lose posts as contracts are not renewed.

Last week’s dismissal of hundreds of employees at the ANSES social security agency came unexpectedly, without prior notice. It’s a taste of what’s to come in the next stage of President Javeir Milei’s government, which intends to apply the ‘chainsaw’ to state employment, including the non-renewal of a good part of 70,000 contracts that expire at the end of the month.

Inside the Milei government, they have no details about the exact number of lay-offs they have enforced since December 10, with various estimates that clash against each other and with those put forward by unions.

The employment contracts of an estimated 70,000 people, which expire on March 31, have been in the sights of the La Libertad Avanza government since the beginning of January. They are one of the points to be attacked by Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse's office, which monitors the fiscal adjustment minute-by-minute and which has been responsible for drawing a very concrete line over the last week: each ministry and state portfolio must report by this week which contracts will be eliminated, while also informing the soon-to-be victims that they will be left without a source of income. Approximately 15,000 to 20,000 state officials will be laid off, it is expected.

The news has not gone down well at several ministries, which need personnel and are not in a position to pass the chainsaw through its staff-list. "There are valuable people who work very well for a salary that is not high. How are we going to fire people at this time?" an official from La Libertad Avanza told Perfil, adding that calls had been put into Posse and Economy Minister Luis Caputo to explain that they cannot trim staff further.

Within the ranks of the libertarian party, the issue has several nuances. On the one hand, President Milei boasts that he has laid off 50,000 people since his arrival at the Casa Rosada. However, among those close to the economist, they are careful not to talk about dismissals and prefer to use the words "non-renewal of contracts." In concrete terms, they only admit that 7,000 members of the public administration lost their income through Decree 84/2023, which came into force on last December 26. This decree, signed by Milei and Posse, established the non-renewal of contracts that fall under Article 9 of the ‘Ley Marco,’ and began on January 1, 2023 and December 31, of the same year. 

At the same time, the Casa Rosada stressed, when asked by this newspaper, that there will not be a major cut of 70,000, only an adjustment of between 20 and 30 percent. The most powerful unions that bring together state workers, the UPCN and ATE, do not take this version for granted. They are preparing, in their own way, for a scenario full of conflict.

Unlike the government, in ATE they do mention the word "dismissals" and offer figures. In total, in addition to the 7,000 contracts that were not extended for this year, there are at least 2,000 men and women from different areas who received a telegram, with the addition that hundreds of employees already know that they will no longer have work and that only the effective dismissal of their dismissal remains to be done. 

In this context, Sandra Pettovello's Human Capital Ministry stands out, with 1,500 people laid off, including 165 at the ANDIS agency for the disabled, 170 at the INCAA national institute of cinema and audiovisual arts, 200 at the AySA waterworks, 26 at the Human Rights Secretariat, 50 at the ENACOM regulatory agency and another 50 at the CONICET scientific research council. 

Another 2,000 more are expected to be made redundant, including 400 staff at the INADI anti-discrimination agency and 900 at the Institute of Family Agriculture, among others. To that long list, another 1,400 will come from the ANSES social security agency and another 900 from CONICET.

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