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News > Latin America

Argentine State Company Lays Off Workers, Looming Privatization

  • Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri speaks during a news conference at the Olivos Presidential Residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 2018.

    Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri speaks during a news conference at the Olivos Presidential Residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 August 2018

Over 100 employees at two state-run Military Industries plants were let go within a week. Union leaders sense the government is trying to sell off the 77-year-old company.

Argentine workers at the Military Industries (FM) say the Mauricio Macri administration is trying to “privatize" the 77-year-old state-run arms and petrochemical operation.

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Hundreds of employees from the FM Rio Tercero plant located outside of Cordoba denounced the government’s layoff of 59 employees at its plant last week. Last week the government dismissed 42 workers at the Villa Maria plant with no prior notice. Union members say this trend means that the government is trying to sell off the state company.

Military Industries began producing military weapons in 1941. Over the years the company, based in Buenos Aires, has entered into the mining, petroleum and petrochemical industries, as well as farm equipment production.  

Trade union spokesperson Emiliano Campos said that President Mauricio Macri and his aligned congress are laying off FM employees little by little in order to cover up the plan to privatize the plant.

Campos told local media, "The plan is for FM … to depend less and less on the Ministry of Defense,” which currently heads the company, and to be “self-sustained by 2020."

The union leader says the layoffs are happening because the Rio Tercero plant, which produces nitric acid because it’s operating "at a loss." He says this is because the government is selling chemicals at below market prices. "There is a loss. … It’s crazy what they're doing."

In total, the ministry of defense has let go 544 FM jobs across the country since last year.

Campos says the firings are "systematic" and that small towns such as Rio Tercero and Rio Turbio are suffering the economic impact. "With the layoffs, there are 17 million fewer pesos entering the city" of Rio Tercero.

He added that the president’s Cambiemos political party "has come to steal our dreams and projects."

In private company layoffs, Paqueta, which produces shoes for Adidas, announced on Monday it would lay off 600 employees at its Chivilcoy location, outside of Buenos Aires. Business leaders there said it was because of low demand for Adidas products in the domestic market.

Local media says that the announcement came days after the Extreme Gear plant, which also produced for Adidas in another Buenos Aires suburb, closed its doors for good.

In July Argentina’s Political Economy Center (CEPA) released a report showing that in 2018, on average, 4,368 workers were fired each month nationwide. According to the report, the most affected were public sector workers, who accounted for 46 percent of all the layoffs, and industrial workers, who account for 38 percent.

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