Argentines March Against Feared Public Job Cuts

Argentines March Against Feared Public Job Cuts
AFP / Eitan Abramovich A state worker demonstrates against the government of Argentina's President Mauricio Macri outside the Labor Ministry building in Buenos Aires, on December 29, 2015

Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina’s new President Mauricio Macri launched a public sector review Tuesday that workers fear could lead to mass job cuts, prompting thousands to demonstrate in protest.

In a decree published in the official journal, Macri ordered a revision of public administration work contracts issued under his leftist predecessor Cristina Kirchner.

It was the latest in a rapid series of reforms Macri has launched since he took office on December 10 after beating Kirchner’s allies to the presidency.

Tuesday’s decree ordered state administrators to “revise the public tender and personnel selection processes” within six months.

Thousands of people marched to the labor ministry in Buenos Aires Tuesday in protest against the measures.

The demonstration was called by the major public sector union ATE after the government announced the planned review last week.

The government said it would revise 24,000 public sector work contracts and 11,000 tenders dating back to 2013.

A report by newspaper La Nacion estimated that hiring in the public sector multiplied by 54 percent during the 12 years of government by Kirchner and her late husband and predecessor Nestor.

Macri’s victory marked a major shift in Argentina, where the populist “Peronist” movement has dominated politics for decades.

The demonstrators on Tuesday also protested against the devaluation of Argentina’s peso, which Macri has allowed to float freely on the market after four years of foreign exchange controls.

Macri said that move was needed to boost imports and the economy, but his opponents warn it will cut poorer Argentines’ spending power.

Tuesday’s decrees also included a series of controversial judicial measures and appointments.

The president himself was on holiday in the south of the country with his family as the latest decrees came out, two days before the start of the legislature and judiciary’s summer recess.