European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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18 September 2015

ETUI takes part in cooperation programme between academic research and trade unions in Argentina

In Argentina the national council for scientific and technical research (CONICET) is seeking to promote cooperation between academic research and social movements, in particular the trade unions. Within this framework, a cooperation programme was concluded with the Belgian national scientific research fund FNRS in the context of which the ETUI received an invitation to present its experience on working conditions to audiences in Argentina.

Between 4 and 12 September, a large number of presentations and gatherings were organised in the city of Buenos Aires and other locations in Buenos Aires province. Speakers at these events included ETUI researcher Laurent Vogel and Aline Bingen, a labour sociologist at the Free University of Brussels. The gatherings were the occasion for exchanges among researchers from different universities studying working conditions and leaders of the survey on working conditions conducted by the Argentine labour ministry, as well as for contacts with trade unionists representing various organisations.

The numerous activities included a presentation in the city of Azul, four presentations and seminars in different universities in Buenos Aires and its industrial suburbs, and a meeting with trade union activists focussing on the field of occupational health. A particular feature of the development of university education in Argentina over the last five years has been the creation of new universities in working class areas, the students at which represent the first generation in their families with access to higher education. These universities maintain very close relations with the social movements in the areas where they are located, and this explains the attendance at the various gatherings of numerous labour activists and trade union officials.

The trade unions that have initiated links with the ETUI represent most sectors of industry and services including automobile construction, metal, chemicals, fibrocement factories, transport, teaching, health, etc. The role of trade unions in improving working conditions has increased since the adoption of two provincial laws – in the provinces of Santa Fe (2008) and Buenos Aires (2014) where the majority of industrial jobs in Argentina are concentrated – providing for the creation of joint health and safety committees.

The first national survey on working conditions to be organised in Argentina took place in 2009 and covered 7,200 workers; its methodology is extremely similar to that of the European surveys on working conditions conducted – over the last 25 years – by the European Foundation in Dublin. The question of chemical risks is cause for growing concern in a country where vast expanses of agricultural land are given over to the cultivation of genetically modified soya. Argentina is one of the countries where widespread use is made of Glyphosate, a herbicide produced by Monsanto and recently classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

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