Tuesday, June 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 25-04-2024 16:35

Omnibus bill heads to Congress, debate set for Monday or Tuesday

After a day when at times it seems everything was falling apart, ultimately amendments made everyone happy. With the support of PRO and a sector of the Radicals and Hacemos Coalición Federal, La Libertad Avanza obtained 61 signatures.

The ruling party managed to issue a majority opinion for the 'Law of Bases and Starting Points for Argentines’ Freedom,' otherwise known as the 'omnibus' bill, the sweeping reform package presented by the government of President Javier Milei to move forward with massive economic, financial, labour and social changes. 

The government finally agreed to eliminate the articles most questioned by different sectors of the opposition open to dialogue from the labour chapter of the Omnibus Law, which coincidentally, were those rejected by the CGT General Workers’ Confederation.

After a day when at times it seemed that the possibility of processing the bill was fading, ultimately it all came to fruition and the conditions were there for all the committees the Chamber of Deputies to issue an opinion last Thursday on the Omnibus Law and its fiscal chapter.

The bill will go to the house floor between Monday and Tuesday with a view to approval ahead of the announced May Pact on the national day of May 25.

The new draft contains the Government’s labour law modernisation proposal, which now contains 17 of the 58 original articles.

The penalisation of workers’ assemblies which end up in strikes was left out, as was the article considering union blockades as a “serious labour offence which amounts to objective grounds for termination of the employment contract”. Yet it kept the article proposing penalties against those blocking a company: Emergency Decree 70 provided that said action would be punishable by three to six years in prison while the new draft calls for between six months and three years in prison.

Another eliminated article in the Emergency Decree and the previous draft was the one jeopardising two points of the Employment Contract Law: the principle whereby in case of doubt, the statute most favourable to the worker should be applied and the no-waiver clause, permitting workers to voluntarily waive rights granted under laws or collective bargaining agreements.

The government also removed the changes in the remote work system which were in tune with business stances and the repeal of the Travelling Salespeople Regime, two of the articles contained in Emergency Decree 70.

The bill still contains the amendments of penalties for unregistered or poorly registered jobs, the reduction from eight to six months of the worker’s trial period (it may be extended to eight months in companies with six to 100 workers, and to one year in companies of up to five workers) and the authorisation for employers and union leaders to agree to a new severance in collective bargaining based on the Unemployment Fund of the UOCRA construction workers union.

As of 3.30pm on Thursday, La Libertad Avanza had obtained 61 signatures, between the deputies of La Libertad Avanza, PRO and a majority of the Radicals and Hacemos Coalición Federal. Now everything points to obtaining first reading at the sessions scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday. 

Unión por la Patria and Frente de Izquierda issued opinions rejecting the law, and within Hacemos Coalición Federal all five Coalición Cívica deputies signed their own minority opinion, as did both socialists from Santa Fe (Mónica Fein and Esteban Paulón) and Margarita Stolbizer.

At the last minute, given differences with sectors of the opposition, the government gave in and removed Banco Nación and its subsidiaries from the list of companies subject to privatisation from the Bases Law.

Some sectors of the Radicals and Hacemos Coalición Federal did not agree with authorising the partial privatisation of Banco Nación. Since they did not have guaranteed votes, in order to prevent defeat, the Executive Branch decided to cut its losses and take the bank off the list.


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