BUENOS AIRES – Thousands of public employees marched in Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities on Thursday to denounce the conservative government for eliminating hundreds of jobs in the public sector.
“This is the first national strike of the year against the government of (president Mauricio) Macri in repudiation of the quantity of workers that this government is putting on the street in the most insensitive and inhuman way,” the secretary of the ATE public employee union, Silvia Leon, told EFE at a protest.
Roughly 1,500 public sector workers have been let go since Dec. 30, according to the ATE.
Many of those workers were given no advance notice that their contracts would not be renewed, Leon said.
Employees “arrived at their workplaces and found that they couldn’t enter or that the factory was closed,” she said, adding that for people on short-term contracts, “there is always the possibility of dismissal.”
Alejandro Bodart, a labor activist and leader of the Workers Socialist Movement (MST), told EFE that the unions want the government to rescind the layoffs and to put all public employees on long-term contracts.
Organized labor is also demanding an end to “garbage contracts” that mandate salaries of as little as 7,000 pesos ($380) a month in an economy where the base monthly per capita cost of living is roughly $280.
The MST said it expects up to 1.5 million to take part in Thursday’s nationwide mobilization.