The priests of the General Labor Confederation (CGT) seem to have a dual feeling with Sergio Massa: on the one hand they have liked his appointment in Economy because they have known him for years and some of them have personal friendships; on the other, before a formal meeting that the minister will have with them, he apparently sent word through informal channels that he will not be able to comply with certain union requests. That generated that the CGT small table ratify the march of next August 17. Massa would have preferred him to get up.
As soon as he was appointed to the ministry, Massa also learned of the union members’ rejection of the announcement he made on Wednesday after his swearing-in on a fixed-sum wage increase for lower-income workers in the private sector and a reformulation of family allowances. It would be by decree.
According to the unions, this limits their negotiation capacity within the framework of the parity. They see the hand of hard Kirchnerism behind that idea. More specifically, by Cristina Kirchner. Thus, the leadership triumvirate of the CGT would have let Massa know – also through informal channels – of his idea of resisting any mechanism of increase other than through the parity. Theoretically, on Thursday of next week the faces will be seen because the minister announced that he would summon them. The meeting, until yesterday, was not officially confirmed.
AN OLD CLAIM
Massa also inherits a malaise from the CGT that comes from before: the lack of responses from the Government in issuing a decree -promised in the Guzmán administration- so that the union social works transfer to the State the value of disability benefits in the items of transportation and education, one of the most expensive for the union health system, and that aggravates the social works their already precarious financial situation.
The deficit of the union health system increased a lot due to the strong incidence of disability benefits (rehabilitation, treatment, education and transportation). According to union numbers, they represent 50% of the collection of the Redistribution Solidarity Fund (FDS), which is integrated with the contribution of workers and employers to finance highly complex benefits and medicines.
For social projects, paying for the education and transportation of their members with disabilities was equivalent to about 8,000 million pesos per month. That was until Tuesday because that day the National Disability Agency, which reports to the Presidency, ordered a 25% increase in the tariffs for basic benefits in the sector.
With this increase, now the cost will rise to 10,000 million pesos per month and about 100,000 million pesos annually, according to union sources, which will represent 71% of the FDS budget. According to CGE projections, the union social work system will end in 2022 with a financial deficit of much more than 50,000 million, which was the maximum calculation that was expected until three days ago.
The CGT and Juan Manzur, the chief of staff, spoke about this last Tuesday. But then Massa took office and the axis of power of these decisions seems to have turned towards him. It is the new minister who should approve the decree that alleviates the situation of social works by making the State absorb the costs. But is Massa in a position to do that when he has just announced that he intends to adjust state spending to respect the agreement with the IMF?
It is in this framework that the march of the 17th appears as a possible mechanism of pressure on the Government to achieve that long promise.