05/30/2020 - 19:57
The collection of the Christmas bonus is already part of the uncertain future that the coronavirus crisis installed in Argentina. It is a conflict that began to rise on the horizon of businessmen and merchants who day by day try to survive the paralysis of activity and who warn that, for now, two exits are projected: receive government aid or pay in dues.
That discussion began to take hold at the Casa Rosada, mainly after a request that the leadership of the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA) raised to extend the Emergency Assistance to Work and Production (ATP) program, with which the The state pays up to $ 33,750 of each salary, also to cover part of the first annual payment of the Annual Supplementary Salary (SAC), which by law must be credited on June 30 .
The president of the UIA, Miguel Acevedo, and the vice president of the industrial entity and head of COPAL, Daniel Funes de Rioja , were in charge of promoting the proposal before the economy ministers, Martín Guzmán; of Work, Claudio Moroni, and Productive Development, Matías Kulfas.
"We have spoken about the June ATP and we have June and SAC, that is to say, the Christmas bonus. The situation is particularly heavy and it must be clear that, although activities are opened, there is no demand, " said Funes de Rioja before the Clarín consultation .
The latest numbers released by Indec show the seriousness of the situation: in March, when quarantine was launched on Friday the 20th, industrial activity registered a year-on-year drop of 13.9%, its worst record since the beginning of the series in 1995.
But also, in the UIA they warn that the crisis is aggravated by the collapse of demand, both in the local and international markets and by the difficulties in accessing financing.
" It is not merely to enable the restart, but to contemplate how the companies are, which are without working capital, without rest to be able to face this," Funes de Rioja insisted.
At the Casa Rosada they took note of the businessmen's proposal and began to evaluate it. Sources with access to these deliberations indicated to Clarín that the possibility of expanding the ATP to also cover the payment of the Christmas bonus is not ruled out , although they clarified that there are still no definitions.
"It is an issue that is going to be evaluated," they limited themselves to saying in the national government. Discussions will continue in the coming days and there may be news.
The businessmen are confident that the ATP will also be extended to June, but they are considering an alternative plan to meet the payment of the first half of the SAC for this year. "Will there be ATP for the Christmas bonus? It is not yet known. And for this there are two ways: either there is ATP for the Christmas bonus and everything is paid together, or an installment payment is agreed ," Funes de Rioja warned.
The economy registers negative records
The legal mechanism that would be resorted to is that set forth in Article 91 of Law 24,467 on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises , which allows the SAC payment to be split.
"The collective labor agreements referring to small businesses may provide for the fractionation of the periods of payment of the supplementary annual salary as long as they do not exceed three (3) periods in the year, " indicates current regulations.
However, payment in installments must be defined through an agreement between the business chambers and the union representatives of each activity.
Attentive to the efforts that businessmen began, in the CGT they came out to warn that "the Christmas bonus is the Christmas bonus " and that they do not perceive that there are arguments for not complying with that payment.
"I do not put it at risk at any time because I do not put it in debate . It will be necessary to see what are the conditions of everything that is being lived, but first we have to solve May and then June," said Héctor Daer, one of the drivers. of the workers central.
The union leader recognized that the economic situation depends on "day to day" and took care to make clear that there are pending discussions with employers, which must be resolved before the question of the Christmas bonus.
"The last time we spoke, we spoke about the agreement that had been signed on the workers who have their companies closed and about the job stability contained in that same agreement. This expires at the end of the month, there we have to sit down again employers to continue guaranteeing income, "he demanded.
SMEs call for a "financial rescue"
In the Argentine Confederation of Medium-sized Enterprises (CAME) they warn that they will need a "financial rescue", which contemplates multiple actions of government assistance, to be able to cover the payment of the Christmas bonus. It is the voice of the chamber that represents the more than 600 thousand SMEs across the country that drive private employment.
"The State's help to pay the Christmas bonus is part of the financial rescue that we are asking for," said Ricardo Diab, vice president of the entity.
And he went on to detail some of the measures they demand: "We need zero-rate loans that are obtainable, that 100% of the salary of SMEs with up to 40 workers be covered, that a solidarity discount be applied to rents, extend the moratorium from AFIP to the end of preventive isolation, redemptions of rejected checks and refinancing the liabilities of pledge and bank debts. "
Diab considered that sending funds through the ATP program "is not enough" because, he explained, the payment of wages represents for SMEs "37 or 38 percent" of expenses.
The business leader complained that "they had no direct dialogue with the national government" and recalled that the small business sector groups "70 percent of Argentina's workforce."
"Unfortunately, we are going towards a future in which a large number of SMEs are going to leave the system," he predicted.