Technology puts union power in trouble


There are more and more activities in which human resources are not replaced and the job map is modified; the challenge of reconversion worries the unions, which explore alternatives Source: Archive

Long before the economic shock generated by the pandemic, new technologies were a dangerous warning to union bosses. With the crisis and the uncertainty that the coronavirus, are today his great threat. There is a caste of leaders that still escapes the reconversion and that not even the blows of the plague push them to react. For that generation the debate passed almost indifferent to regulate telework.

In the week the law was passed, late last month, the CGT released by mail and WhatsApp (it does not have its own website) an official statement, although on another subject. It was a nostalgic event, 68 years after the death of Eva Peron. The messages of the guilds tend to refer many more times to the past than to the present or the future.

For example, the position of the union corporation on the new legislation on remote work was not known, a shortcut imposed by the health emergency today. It was only known what he exposed Hector Daer, one of the two cegetista chiefs, who asked that the same rights and obligations be maintained that the face-to-face modality, and that he took care to make it clear in the fine print that it is not a new activity, which would have enabled some modern union to advance on the representation of the thousands of teleworkers. It was a way of enclosing the territory that traditional unionism considers its own.

The pandemic forced many companies to appeal to the home office, a practice that long before the coronavirus generated noise and little adherence among trade unionists. The reason? Their power of attorney could be diluted, in addition to meaning an important relief in the pockets of the employer, since the expenses for the workplace, supplies, per diem and even the payment of the Occupational Risk Insurer would be saved. The new regulations were supposed to clear up some of these questions, but it didn’t turn out so. There are a point in particular that fueled doubts and that says: “The concept of reversibility is sanctioned by which a worker may return to perform work in person at any time and without prior notice.” In other words, the employer will have to face operating expenses at the worker’s home, but in case the worker regrets, he or she must also have a suitable place at hand in the usual office. The trial industry is already smacking.

In 2019 alone, the Trade Employees Union, the largest in the country, lost 30,000 jobs due to technological advancement. Consumption habits changed: more and more people are shopping digitally. If someone before the pandemic had never experienced a purchase on line, in these four months of confinement, he would have ever tried, they evaluate worried in the mercantile union, whose collective agreement is from 1975, an immense disadvantage to be able to represent workers of computer companies or of giants dedicated to electronic commerce, such as Free market.

To stop labor bleeding, the merchant Armando Cavalieri advanced with cost reduction agreements with the household appliances sector, for example. “Labor flexibility is in fact, a law is not needed today,” said a leading trade unionist in the CGT who justified the shortcut that Cavalieri took.

Between 2015 and 2019, the Banking Association lost 1,180 jobs, according to an internal survey of the union. The losses are explained by the voluntary retirement processes, the merger of Banco Citi with Santander and some isolated dismissals. What was imposed almost as a rule in the sector is that more personnel are not replaced because it is covered by technological advance. It is the root of the pulse that Sergio Palazzo aims to represent the representation of some 5000 workers who would work in the technological financial system (fintech) and that he considers that they should be included in his guild. One of his disputes it’s with Marcos Galperin by the Mercado Pago application.

Uber and other apps

Jorge Omar VivianiHe retired this week from driving the taxi drivers union after 37 years. He says he went through a cycle. And that leaves a union with 25,000 members, a headquarters that is not lacking in luxuries, a medical center, a campsite and a five-star hotel. Covering the structural costs became almost impossible. The wear and tear of five years of judicial and street fighting with an invisible enemy, such as it is, greatly impacted in the fall Uber. “I am leaving with the battle won because the application is not legalized, it is trout. The cars are on the street, but they are not legal,” says Viviani, perhaps seeking consolation. A change in the regulation of Buenos Aires taxis could sentence a hit activity.


Demonstration of the taxi drivers union against UBER. Source: Archive

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta He beat the national administration in regulating delivery applications, which would employ more than 50,000 people. The regulations approved in the Buenos Aires Legislature, however, put more focus on road safety than on worker’s rights. To the Minister of Labor of the Nation, Claudio Moroni, they have not yet given him the green light to unarchive a project that aims to regulate working hours, health coverage and insurance. In the initiative is the hand of Mara Ruiz Malec, the minister of the area of ​​Axel Kicillof, who said that in the work of digital platforms “there is a traditional labor relationship.” It would not be unreasonable then that the frozen project is now underway in the province. There are two unions that dispute this universe of distributors, which grew at the rate of the crisis.

Hugo Moyano, who will not give up for be part of Mercado Libre earnings, is not on the sidelines of technological challenges despite its 76 years.

A unicorn company, whose valuation exceeds 1 billion dollars, ruled out investing in the country a few months ago to develop an application that allows direct hiring of truck drivers. The multinational finally settled in Brazil, alleging union pressure, according to witnesses of the frustrated landing.


Members of the Loading and Unloading guild guard a Mercado Libre headquarters to prevent Moyano truckers from activating blockades
Members of the Loading and Unloading guild guard a Mercado Libre headquarters to prevent Moyano truckers from activating blockades Source: LA NACION – Credit: Santiago Filipuzzi

It’s funny about Moyano. At least about Hugo and Pablo, the truck drivers. They reject any innovation, but enabled other maneuvers in the opposite direction. Facundo, his son who is a national deputy, explained 465 businessmen a few days ago about the future of work and demanded that the State be the one that analyzes with each activity how the jobs that will be occupied by technology can be replaced. He did not speak of stoppages or blockades.

Hugo Moyano (h.), another of the heirs of the trucker boss, has been the attorney for the Computer Union, a union that located its own delegates in almost all the software giants based in the country and who intends to dispute affiliates to the traditional unionism that did not aggiornó their agreements.

In the midst of this confusion, an innovative project that emerged six years ago is now bearing fruit, which aims to reconvert the employee before technology displaces him. It is promoted by the Union of Construction and Related Employees (Uecara), headed by Gustavo Rossi from Cordoba, who represents middle management of construction and toll workers from the interior of the country. The initiative consists of training a toll booth worker so that he can perform another role within the same company. 300 jobs have already been reconverted and agreements with universities have been sealed. “Technology cannot be stopped. What you have to achieve is that it is not an expeller of work”, argues Rossi.

Mere defiance puts union power in trouble.

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