"Worlds of Work" during last Kirchnerism (2011-2015). The cases of CGT and CTEP
Morris, María Belén; "Worlds of Work" during last Kirchnerism (2011-2015). The cases of CGT and CTEP; Rowman & Littlefield International; 2019; 165-184
Morris, María Belén
In this article, I will discuss the dynamics of the world of work during the period between 2011 and 2015, which ended with the electoral defeat of the Frente para la Victoria (FPV, Front for Victory), with the aim of getting a better understanding of the political and economic scenario which preceded the crisis of the left turn in Argentina. I will particularly focus on the experiences of the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT, General Confederation of Labour) and of the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía (CTEP, Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy).These two cases enable us to demonstrate that the political articulation power of Kirchnerism lost strength from 2011 onwards, and this became evident in the economic and political arena. However, this transformation had a different meaning for each actor in our study. Thus, heterogeneous demands emerged in a context of structural decoupling among the various collective of workers. Some unions from the CGT demanded greater political participation after having gained ground in the economic-corporate field during the previous years. The CTEP oriented themselves to winning labour rights for the most vulnerable workers and gaining recognition from the State and the CGT. The mentioned structural decoupling was rooted in different temporalities. One of them is related to the deep transformations in the world of work at both national and international levels in the mid seventies (Silver, 2003). As capital progressively changed its morphology and composition, the stereotype of the male industrial worker with full rights gradually disappeared. Instead, the labour market became characterized by a multiplicity of labour subjects under diverse working conditions and with uneven access to rights. As a consequence, the organizational forms of the world of work were strongly changed, rearranged and challenged. During the nineties, the establishment of the neoliberal order in Argentina deepened those consequences and caused significant strategic differences within the labour movement: While hegemonic unionism defended the Argentine trade-union model by negotiating in exchange of a deterioration of labour rights (Bensusan, 2000; Murillo, 2001), other labour sector questioned these transformations through different modes of organization. The unemployed workers, who were gaining prominence, organized themselves around the Movimientos de Trabajadores Desocupados (MTD, Movements of Unemployed Workers). The most delimited temporality refers to Kirchnerism (2003-2015). In general terms, it was a more favourable period for trade-union action. Changes in the labour market, favoured by macroeconomic changes, were fundamental (Etchemendy & Collier, 2007). The context during the first years of government enabled the generation of employment and the discussion on labour dynamics. In the political arena, trade-unions became a privileged interlocutor for the government, at least until 2010. In addition, the arrival of Kirchnerism restored the national-popular tradition which had become devalued. These elements transformed the government’s relationship with MTDs and trade-unions.But neither the labour-market evolution nor the relationships between the government and the different world-of-work actors were uniform. Starting with the 2009 crisis, but especially after 2011, the main variables of the labour market started to decline. From then on, the registered private-sector workers from the CGT would take advantage of the much-touted "union revitalisation", while some informal workers in precarious situation began generating their own jobs after facing the impossibility of full employment. In the political arena, Kirchnerism’s articulation power lost strength during the third term. This was made evident by the distancing of the CGT leadership from the government. After Néstor Kirchner´s death in 2010, the national government changed its leadership strategy, promoted a direct link between government and citizens and leant on the youth-field actors. Varied labour demands began to emerge among mobilized actors, some of which crystallized in organization. A case is the CTEP, which emerged in 2011 with the aim of organizing contingent workers in terms of territorial and union action. Our empirical corpus consists of a set of interviews with leaders of both organizations. The interviews were conducted from September to December, 2016, in the framework of the Project "The end of the left turn in Latin America? New actors and discourses shaping the political arena of the post-transition", funded by the University of Bath. The analysis will be complemented with data from a quantitative database created under the same project, and with the study of documents and press articles which enable us to reconstruct positions and contexts.