Argentina: confront capitalist reaction by fighting for a workers’ government!

The government of Javier Milei is once more accelerating the deterioration of workers’ living and working conditions. Adding to the list of government subsidies which have been eliminated over the past few months, today he is attacking subsidies for long-distance train fares as well as those that serve the suburbs of Buenos Aires, which many poor workers depend on for their daily commute. Ticket prices will rise an average of 54 percent, although they will rise by 2,000 percent for long-distance trains.

[Originally published in Spanish at]

The first water, electricity and gas bills of the month are arriving with astronomical increases after subsidies for these utilities were also cut.

Inflation has exceeded 100 percent in the 155 days of Milei’s presidency, which throws into glaring relief the contract negotiations for below-inflation raises and the ceiling on wage increases applied by the government, accepted by the CGT trade union confederation.

Argentina is experiencing conditions of extreme ‘stagflation’ – i.e. simultaneous high inflation and economic contraction – despite the fact that the collapse in consumption of ordinary workers is applying a downward pressure on inflation. This policy of wage restraint is being combined with state austerity to reduce the fiscal deficit by more than 5 percent of GDP.  The result for the government is a nice accumulation of funds, at the expense of the blood and sweat of the working class. These funds will then be disposed of by paying off the enormous illegitimate debt owed to the International Monetary Fund, among others.

While the de facto value of the peso has fallen due to inflation, and on the semi-legal black market the peso has fallen against the dollar, the official rate set by the Central Bank has remained fixed. An official devaluation is now likely, which will only add to inflation. Given the depth of the current recession, this could push the economy into depression, as the bourgeois economists have been warning.

While the workers suffer, the capitalist class is benefitting fabulously from Milei’s government and the present crisis. According to official figures, they have illegally transferred more than $250 billion USD from the country. To this, Milei lightly responded earlier in April, at the Llao Llao Forum (a meeting of Argentina’s largest capitalists and landlords), that those who smuggle dollars from the country are “heroes” for avoiding the state’s “claws”, “no matter where the money comes from”.

Now the government is drafting an ‘omnibus’ law to be sent to Congress that would allow capitalists dollars made outside of the legal economy to be legally laundered, entering the legal economic circuit at almost no cost. The government will thereby happily gain a source of dollars to face the harsh economic, political, and social winter that is coming. The government is providing this legal mechanism knowing very well that they are laundering money coming from drugs, arms and human trafficking. Legal and smuggled currency, parallel and legal markets, are two sides of the same coin for the capitalists to guarantee their enormous profits.

Trade union bosses’ class collaboration

Milei Image Oliver Kornblihtt Mídia NINJA FlickrThe capitalist class is benefitting fabulously from Milei’s government / Image: Oliver Kornblihtt/Mídia NINJA, Flickr

Meanwhile, members of Argentina’s national senate last week voted themselves a salary increase that sees their gross income rise to 7,200,000 pesos (over $8,000 USD), or 4,500,000 pesos (over $5,000 USD) after taxes. This is 20 times higher than the current minimum wage. This shameful increase puts on display the behaviour of the caste that Milei promised to “fight”. This 120 percent increase contrasts with the policy of economy minister Santiago Caputo not to ratify the wage agreements negotiated by the trade unions.

For its part, the CGT trade union confederation is continuing to negotiate with the government for a ‘new social contract’, i.e. new labour legislation being introduced, allegedly needed to adapt the workforce to new technologies. This ‘new social contract’ is so at present so ambiguous that it has freed the hands of the CGT union bosses, despite being tailored to the needs of the bosses. Decisively, however, it throws out the window the 1975 collective agreements in the Commerce, Health, Banking, Metallurgy, Construction and other sectors. We ask, are the CGT leaders so innocent as to throw these agreements away on good faith? We don’t believe that to be the case.

Passing these labour counter-reform laws is a bargaining chip for the union bureaucrats, in return for which the government will allow them to continue managing the enormously lucrative business of workers’ health insurance plans.

This was demonstrated by the agreement reached by Moyano and co. (the heads of the CGT), which fixed wage cuts in exchange for a considerable sum for its insurance plans: 10,000 pesos per affiliate for each of the two hundred thousand workers affiliated, which fills these bureaucrats’ coffers with 2 billion pesos (around $2 million USD) per month. These are the general lines of the arrangement between the union heads and the bosses and government: they work together to drive wages downwards in exchange for preserving the huge revenues that the union leaders rely on in order to remain welded to their comfortable armchairs, far from the factories and workplaces, while guaranteeing social peace. This ‘peace’, of course, is paid for by the misery of millions of workers, women and men, young and old, whose future they are selling.

The CGT hasn’t taken a single step to develop on the one-day general strike of 24 January, despite the layoffs, the brutal austerity, the destruction of pensions and the entire anti-worker agenda pursued by the government. Now the bureaucrats are proposing to call another strike for 9 May – again, without any plan to continue the struggle thereafter, while simultaneously negotiating the labour counter-reform. The reactionary role of these CGT gordos is clear.

The Peronist opposition, meanwhile, maintains a conspicuous silence and remains huddled in parliament. They are playing the game they historically know best: containing the masses, helping maintain governability for Milei, and waiting for the next elections.

Meanwhile, misery grows, wages fall and living conditions degrade. Their passivity and reliance on legalistic means was bolstered by the Supreme Court when it declared some of the articles in Milei’s Necessity and Urgency Decree (DNU) containing labour counter-reforms to be unconstitutional.

The masses are moving

The march in defence of public universities on 23 April against Milei’s plan to defund them was colossal, catalysing and serving as an outlet for the popular anger that is slowly but surely growing in society. The illusions of many sectors in Milei are evapourating day by day. Although he retains a certain level of support, at some point workers and youth, the unemployed, and retirees will inevitably say: enough is enough.

Milei Image Cámara de Diputados de la Nación Wikimedia CommonsThe illusions of many sectors in Milei are evapourating day by day / Image: Cámara de Diputados de la Nación, Wikimedia Commons

As the march in defence of the universities demonstrated, there is no repressive protocol that can contain hundreds of thousands of men and women when they make a stand. It should be noted that before this huge mobilisation there were also massive demonstrations on 24 January, 8 March, and 24 March.

Ahead of us, we have a 1 May mobilisation that promises to be massive, and on 9 May we have the 24-hour strike, which the CGT bureaucrats were forced to call. As the entire rank and file of the labour movement, we must make this strike our own, since this is the only way to give consistency and continuity to the fight that lies ahead to defend our living conditions.

The capitalists are blinded by their ambition to continue to accumulate ever more money in their pockets, at the expense of the suffering of millions of workers. We must fight to overthrow the rotten regime of capitalism and its institutions.

For the communists of Corriente Socialista Militante, it is a matter of translating this gradually accumulating anger into an organised force, into a programme based on the needs of society, into a general strike – in short, into the building of workers’ power.

This is a historic opportunity to build the revolutionary leadership the working class needs.

Capitalism is a source of despair, wars and misery. In every mass demonstration, in every factory, workplace, university, and school, we must put forth the banners of communism and of the revolution.

Let us get down to work!

Down with the government of hunger and austerity!

For a workers’ government!

For a Revolutionary Communist International!

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