Published 01/24/2024 18:23 | Edited 01/26/2024 13:00
A labor court judge, Liliana Rodríguez Fernández, declared the nullity of six articles of the Necessity and Urgency Decree (DNU) of Javier Milei’s government, in a decision announced this Wednesday (24). The measure was taken in response to the national strike called by Argentine unions against the DNU and the Basic Law project. The first instance judge highlighted that the changes will only be valid if they are ratified by Congress.
The judge “partially granted the protection action” of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), declaring the nullity of articles 73, 79, 86, 87, 88 and 97 of DNU 70/2023. However, she clarified that the validity of these articles will be reestablished if they are ratified by Congress within the period of the current extraordinary sessions, or they will automatically lose their validity.
The articles in question address significant changes to labor laws, including conditions for withholding union contributions, rules for collective bargaining, validity of mandatory clauses, right to hold assemblies, extension of clauses in expired collective agreements, prohibited actions during protests and regulation of services minimum in situations of collective conflicts.
The judge’s decision was limited to DNU articles which, in her view, directly impact union interests by affecting workers’ collective rights. According to judicial sources, the judge argued that these changes do not present an adequate justification of necessity and urgency.
“I make no value judgment on the possible need for any of the proposed reforms, but it is clear that the urgency invoked in the case of all of them has not been established”, clarified the judge in her decision. This interpretation goes against the usual practice that decrees of necessity and urgency can only be invalidated if rejected by both chambers of Congress.
Furthermore, the judge noted that Congress is in operation and that the Executive Branch itself has incorporated the discussion on the ratification of the DNU in extraordinary sessions. She highlighted that the need and urgency for the reform do not seem adequately justified, especially in relation to the macroeconomic problems mentioned in the decree.
Previously, precautionary measures had already been granted against the reforms mentioned in the decision, involving sensitive issues such as the non-obligation of contributions to unions and changes in the conditions for holding assemblies.
The decision included a criticism of the treatment given to the DNU in Congress, suggesting that the Chambers should focus on the treatment of DNU 70/2023 during the extraordinary sessions, since the Bicameral Commission’s term has expired.
The court’s decision comes amid protests and intense debates about the economic reforms proposed by Milei’s government. The CGT celebrated the decision as an initial victory, while critics warn of possible economic implications and uncertainty in labor relations. Congress now faces the decision of whether or not to ratify the government’s proposed changes.
Chronology of Invalidated Articles:
- Article 73: Modifies the wording of paragraph c) of article 132 of the Employment Contract Law.
- Article 79: Incorporates article 197 bis to Law No. 20,744, dealing with collective labor agreements.
- Article 86: Modifies article 6 of Law No. 14,250, relating to the validity of collective work agreements.
- Article 87: Adds article 20 bis to Law No. 23,551, guaranteeing the right to hold assemblies and union congresses.
- Article 88: Adds article 20 ter to Law No. 23,551, establishing prohibited actions during protests.
- Article 97: Modifies article 24 of Law No. 25,877, dealing with guarantees for the provision of minimum services in collective conflicts.