Court deals blow to Argentine leader Milei’s plan for labour reform

Argentina's President Javier Milei waves before lighting the giant Menorah candelabrum, set up for the traditional Jewish Hanukkah (Chanukah) Festival of Lightsin Buenos Aires on December 12, 2023.
Image caption,Javier Milei is facing pushback from trade unions

By Vanessa Buschschlüter

BBC News

A court in Argentina has dealt a blow to the sweeping economic changes introduced by the newly elected president of Argentina, Javier Milei.

The court suspended labour reforms the president had brought in by decree, after he took office last month.

Trade unions had challenged the changes, arguing that they undermined basic protections for workers.

Mr Milei is expected to appeal against the ruling, which temporarily freezes the labour reforms.

Under the reforms, the probation period for workers would have increased from three to eight months, employees who were dismissed would have received less in compensation payments, and pregnancy leave would have been shortened.

The General Confederation of Labour (CGT), Argentina’s main trade union federation, brought the legal challenge.

The federation, which has called for a general nationwide strike on 24 January, is a major thorn in the side of the newly elected president, who argues that Argentina’s economy is hampered by regulations such as those he proposed to scrap.

After being sworn in last month, President Milei told Argentines that a “shock treatment” would be needed to drag the country out of the economic crisis in which it has been mired.

Inflation is in the triple digits and 40% of the population are living in poverty.

In a speech on 31 December, Mr Milei warned Argentines who opposed his reform package that there would be “a social catastrophe of biblical proportions” if his proposals were blocked.

The 53-year-old was swept to power in November, winning 55.65% of the vote in a run-off against the left-wing candidate Sergio Massa.

During the campaign, Mr Milei promised to slash public spending and put an end what he described as “Argentina’s economic decay”.

But there has been pushback from the country’s trade unions and left-wing groups which say that the president’s plans dismantle hard-won workers’ rights.

Thousands marched in the capital, Buenos Aires, last week in opposition to the changes.

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