The Global State of Workers' Rights - Argentina

Mostly Free

Labor unions have played a major role in Argentine society since the 1930s. While their influence has diminished in recent years due to internal divisions, unions remain robust and active, representing approximately 40 percent of the formal workforce. The General Labor Confederation is Argentina's largest union umbrella group and one of the largest in the world.

Unions continue to be dominated by the Peronist party and are not immune to the country's pervasive corruption.

Argentina's trade unions are free from direct government control. All workers, with the exception of military personnel, are legally free to join trade unions. The rights to organize, engage in collective bargaining, and strike are all recognized by law. The rights to freedom of assembly and association are generally respected in practice. However, there are some restrictions. For example, unions representing civil servants and workers in essential services must ensure that "minimum services" are maintained, and the term is not defined by law. These workers can only strike after a mandatory conciliation process and notification period, which can limit the impact of strikes.

The Ministry of Labor must ratify collective-bargaining agreements for them to be binding. Such agreements cover approximately 75 percent of the formal workforce. While it is aimed at protecting workers' rights, the International Labour Organization asserts that the ratification process impedes free collective bargaining, noting the ministry's power to determine whether an agreement complies with productivity and investment criteria. In recent years there have been cases of employers who did not respect collective agreements or fired union members. Instances of direct government retaliation against workers are rare in Argentina, but union members are at times subject to violence. A prominent union leader was abducted in 2009 by a group of armed individuals who demanded that he end his union activities, and hundreds of teachers from Argentina's two education unions were attacked by security forces while attempting to hold a vigil to demand higher wages.

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