The IUF Latin America Regional Secretariat spoke with Héctor Ponce, ATILRA general secretary, about the recent collective bargaining win and future challenges for the union.
Satisfied with the recently won wage increase of 40 percent?
“We are very satisfied. It’s an achievement that went beyond the expectations of the workers and acknowledges the good work of the National Joint Committee.
“The Committee worked closely with the National Executive of ATILRA and the two structures were responsible for informing the branch organisations of the progress of the negotiations. That way the workers themselves, through their branch meetings, were involved in decision-making.”
How high is the average wage?
“Not counting this latest increase, it was about 6 000 pesos (about $ 1,500.) Therefore, we believe that we have taken a big step and obtained good wages in the sector, given the current international economy and the level of industrialization in our country.”
Leaving aside the wage issue, what are the challenges for ATILRA?
“What we want now is the growth of the entire organization. We must improve our logistics and services structures and continue our efforts to combat unregistered work.
“We have already begun work in many respects: building improvements in some of our branches and an ambitious vocational and trade union education programme for our members.
“We also continue to participate actively at the international level in the IUF Dairy Division.”
How is your participation in the National Dairy Programme* advancing?
“ATILRA been participating since the public presentation of the Draft Work Programme of the government’s Sub-Secretariat for Dairy, earlier this year.
“We are convinced of the importance of our sector, as we are convinced that the National Dairy Programme must becomes government policy. We believe in its potential because this programme was not developed from behind a desk, but with attention to and focus on the different sectors and their challenges.”
Progress is being made?
“Yes, no doubt, but we are very careful. We know there are greedy and selfish interests that don’t have the growth in activity and distribution of wealth in mind. In the face of these obstacles we have to take a leading role to ensure our sector gets the recognition it deserves.
“Moreover, we mustn’t forget that time is of the essence. International demand continues to grow and Argentina has no ceiling on milk production. We must not squander these opportunities and we must ensure that sector development is balanced and beneficial to all stakeholders.”
* National dairy sector development programme developed with the participation of ATILRA and aimed at protecting and increasing employment in this important sector of the Argentinean economy.