Buenos Aires Times

economy LABOUR TENSIONS

Labour Ministry hands Teamsters union US$29m fine

Union boss Pablo Moyano decries move as 'political persecution' and blames President Mauricio Macri for unprecedented sanction.

Friday 20 July, 2018
Pablo (left) and Hugo Moyano (right), pictured at a press conference in June.
Pablo (left) and Hugo Moyano (right), pictured at a press conference in June. Foto:NA-DANIEL VIDES

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President Mauricio Macri’s government on Thursday slapped the Teamsters’ union with a US$28.5-million fine for breaching a mandatory conciliation order at the end of 2017, a move which the powerful union described as “political persecution.”

The resolution issued by the Labour Ministry resolution orders “a penalty of 4,430 pesos for each of the [union’s] 182,797 affiliated workers, resulting in a total fine of 809,790,710 pesos,” read a statement. The fine is result of a “sanctioning procedure against the organisation due to its breach of the mandatory conciliation [order] issued on December 26, 2017.”

The unprecedented fine is the harshest sentence possible under legislation for violating a resolution issued by the Labour Ministry. “We are going to resort to the Judiciary,” Teamsters’ leader Pablo Moyano told the C5N news channel, indicating the union would appeal the sanction which he said was for “assemblies of two hours per shift in the workplace.”

Moyano branded the decision “political persecution,” and said it was evidence of the government influencing judicial processes. He said the fine was an attempt to “break” the organisation.

The union has three days to appeal the decision but is first required to pay the fine, which Moyano described as a “whim on the part of Macri.”

“Of course we will go to court. It could take some time but we have declared a state of alert and protest. Between Monday and Tuesday, Teamsters leaders will meet across the country and we will surely decide on a response,” Moyano added.

The fine is the latest chapter in the ongoing battle between the Moyano family and the Mauricio Macri government. It has included strikes against the Macri administration on the one hand and corruption litigation against Pablo Moyano and his father, longtime veteran union leader and former CGT umbrella union chief Hugo Moyano.

“We are not going to be scared, we are not going to kneel down before this economic model that [the government has] signed with the International Monetary Fund, which has agreed on a new labour reform package,” Pablo Moyano added.

“We will not put up with this austerity, so the government will just have to deal with our response,” he threatened.

Moyano added that Labour Minister Jorge Triaca “is going to be responsible for taking away cancer treatment, rehabilitations services, medication and surgery from the children of 20,000 affiliates.”

Speaking to the La Red radio station, Hugo Moyano accused the Macri administration of being “anti-worker” and said the fine was “unthinkable.”

“It is a government that acts against the unions,” Moyano complained in an interview.  

Moyano said that if the government insisted on taking the money, the union’s healthcare plans would cease to function. “I will take the workers who have sick families to the door of the Ministry, [for them] to attend to them and tell them why they took this measure. “

Labour tensions have risen in recent months in Argentina and show no sign of stopping.

On Friday, truckers will join a march rejecting the government’s recently secured US$50-billion stand-by loan with the IMF, whose chief Christine Lagarde is in Buenos Aires for this weekend’s G20 summit of central bank heads and finance ministers.

– TIMES/AGENCIES

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