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Argentina, labor unions and protests of the unemployed, 1990s

Marina Kabat


Organizations of the unemployed stepped into the limelight of Argentinian political life in the 1990s. Their mobilizations were a response to both the high unemployment rate and the economic recession that followed from the Tequila Effect: the economic crisis of the Southern Cone that resulted from the Mexican economic crisis of 1994. These organizations experienced a tremendous growth that allowed them to move from scattered and isolated actions associated with protest movements into the development of a national struggle with a broader spectrum of demands. In the 1990s the growth in Argentina's unemployment rate accelerated rapidly; equally swift was the organization of unemployed workers' movements, which benefited from strong Argentinian political and organizational traditions. In early 1991, Domingo Cavallo was appointed minister of the economy. He implemented the convertibility plan (Plan de Convertibilidad), which pegged the Argentinian peso to the US dollar, and proposed the National Employment Law (Ley Nacional de Empleo), which facilitated and reduced the cost of dismissals, allowed the hiring of temporary workers, promoted “flexible” work contracts, and extended working hours. The result was an exponential increase in the unemployment rate. When Cavallo took office, the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent; in three years it doubled, and by 1995 it had risen to 18.6 percent. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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