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News > Latin America

Argentina's Fired Workers Say 'We Are Not Gnocchi'

  • Over 20,000 workers have been fired since Mauricio Macri took office.

    Over 20,000 workers have been fired since Mauricio Macri took office. | Photo: teleSUR

Published 29 January 2016

The term “ñoqui,” as in gnocchi, is used in Argentina to suggest workers are lazy, underqualified, and only show up to collect a paycheck.

A three-day strong Argentine protest camp against the policies of President Mauricio Macri in front of the presidential palace in central Buenos Aires was joined on Friday by two marches of laid-off workers who have been hit by Macri’s massive cuts to the public sector.

The two marches protested the new government’s move to fire thousands of public sector workers at the national, provincial, and municipal level in less than two months in office. Over 20,000 workers have been fired since the beginning of 2016, and it’s widely assumed that the government has already set its sights on more jobs.

Photo: Twitter / @aleberco

Protesters in the encampment in the Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires’ main square in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, also were the first to receive 120 Casa Rosada staffers whose jobs were the latest on Macri’s chopping block. The workers, fired from administrative posts and maintenance jobs, got the news as they got to work on Friday.

Another 50 employees were fired from the Central Bank and 140 from Military Industries on Friday as well.

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Some of the fired workers who took to the streets reclaimed the pejorative label used to refer to contract laborers “ñoqui,” calling one of the protests “March of the ñoquis.” Meanwhile, others are fiercely rejecting the term and the hashtag #NoSomosÑoquis has taken off on social media.

The term “ñoqui,” as in the Italian pasta gnocchi, is used as an insult to workers to suggest they are lazy, underqualified, and only show up to collect a paycheck on the 29 of the month, they same day that Italian-descendent Argentines also traditionally eat gnocchi.

Photo: Twitter / @GPAlegre

At Friday’s rally, demonstrators set up gnocchi-making stations and offered the pasta to passers-by as an ironic snack made by the so-called ñoquis.

Meanwhile, leaders of the encampment have vowed to continue their protest until jailed Indigenous leader and lawmaker Milagro Sala is allowed to go free. Many high-profile activists, including Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo leader Estela de Carlotto and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, have declared Sala the first political prisoner of Macri’s administration.

Aside from Sala’s arrest and massive layoffs, Macri’s decisions to spike electricity prices, scrap the country’s Media Law, cut education spending, increase censorship, and rule by decree, among other moves, have sparked public outrage and a wave of protests against the right-wing policy agenda.

Major public sector unions have said that their ranks are on alert for further layoffs and mobilized to continue protests.

WATCH: Hundreds in Argentina Support Jailed Leader Milagro Sala

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