On 28 May, Marcelo Abdala, the secretary general of Uruguay’s umbrella trade union movement Plenario Intersindical de Trabajadores-Convención Nacional de Trabajadores (PIT-CNT), reiterated assurances that a mobilisation planned for 4 June will take place with full observance of social distancing and other sanitary measures against the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The PIT-CNT called a partial general strike next week in rejection of the ‘ley de urgente consideración’ (LUC) far-reaching reform bill tabled by the centre-right coalition government of President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou and currently under discussion in congress. The LUC faces strong criticism from the political opposition and social movements, and has already prompted public protests despite the pandemic. The activity of the PIT-CNT, historically close to the leftist opposition Frente Amplio (FA), has been curtailed as the first months of Lacalle Pou’s presidency have coincided with stay-at-home measures, but as the coronavirus outbreak appears to be controlled and some activities have started up again, so too the PIT-CNT finds itself in a position to increase pressure on the government.
- The PIT-CNT’s representative board announced on 27 May that it had unanimously approved a call for workers to mobilise on 4 June, with a “huge demonstration” before the legislative assembly in Montevideo, in defence “of health, of work, … of livelihoods”, and for the implementation of a basic income under the current emergency.
- The mobilisation will also be in rejection of the “form and content” of the LUC, which the PIT-CNT opposes on many points and which it deems to be undermining democracy. The fact that the LUC’s 500-plus articles must be debated and approved by congress within 90 days, or come into force unchanged, is a concern, with the PIT-CNT particularly unhappy about articles mooting restrictions to the right to protest.The PIT-CNT appeared before a special committee in the senate on 18 May to present its objections to the bill, but says it was given just 30 minutes to do so and was asked no questions. “It was a process almost just for show,” Abdala said.
“Discipline and organisation” will characterise the strike on 4 June, Abdala stressed, so that the focus will be on the PIT-CNT’s demands rather than sanitary concerns.
In brief: Improved offers from Argentine gov’t and bondholders
* Argentina’s economy ministry has reported progress in its US$66bn debt restructuring negotiation with foreign bondholders ahead of the 2 June deadline it has set for reaching an agreement. The ministry announced improvements to the official restructuring proposal and its rejection of an enhanced joint offer from the Ad Hoc Bondholder Group and a second group of bondholders. Economy Minister Martín Guzmán described the creditors’ offer as “a significant improvement”, but said there is still “a way to go” to reach an agreement. The ministry’s own 26 May revision included concessions such as a shortening of the grace period on repayments for the majority of bonds to two years instead of three. Meanwhile, in the early hours of 29 May, the Ad Hoc group and the Argentine Exchange Bondholder Group published a statement confirming they had submitted a joint proposal that is “more favourable” for Argentina, taking into account the challenges presented by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. However, the only details provided on the particulars of the offer were that it included “front-loaded cash flow relief in excess of US$36bn” over a nine-year period. Guzmán noted that the Ad Hoc group, which includes US investment management firm BlackRock, remains the group that is furthest away from striking a deal.