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ECONOMY | 31-12-2018 07:43

Argentina to pursue labour reform: production minister

Around 120,000 jobs in the formal labour market were lost in 2018.

The Macri administration will "pursue labour reform" in the new year, Production Minister Dante Sica announced last week.

Sica's assurances come after the CGT union confederation on Wednesday warned the government it would pull out all the stops to block any attempts in Congress to liberalise the labour market.

"We are going to pursue labour reform. We will continue our dialogue with the CGT and with business sectors to lower extra-salary costs which impede our competitiveness", Sica told the LN+ news channel.

"There is an excessive amount of regulations and penalties which impede new forms of contracting", he added, complaining that a bill to facilitate the formalisation of employ informal workers was being "blocked" in the Congress.

Around 120,000 jobs in the formal labour market were lost in 2018, according to a Production and Labour Ministry report. Manufacturing, commerce and construction suffered the biggest losses during the year, amid a context of economic paralysis.

"Why would I not insist on this if it is the reason why (informal) workers are unprotected?", the Production Minister charged.

A relative newcomer in the Macri administration, Sica also called for "a debate without prejudice" in which "the private sector, businesses, workers and government look at the reality of the numbers in order to discuss new forms of labour relationships".

The CGT and other trade union movements are calling on the government to raise the minimum wage to $25,000 (US$635), after annual inflation approached 50 percent in 2018.

"We are open to this", Sica said on Thursday. "We have been working with the CGT, we have open dialogue, every day we are in contact with different members, we chat to members. So there is going to be no problem in dealing with this issue", he said.

The head of the CGT, Argentina's largest union confederation, on Wednesday warned the government that it would work to stop the reform in Congress.

"Instead of pushing a labour reform which will not pass Congress, the government should call for fresh talks to discuss the minimum wage", Héctor Daer said.

Earlier this month, Sica appointed former union leader Lucas Fernandez Aparicio to a key support role in his ministry, after Labour Secretary Jorge Triaca quit the government.

-TIMES

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