This news was received with expectation, since it seemed to announce the recognition of free work that is carried out mostly by women in their homes and that is, among other things, the cause of gender gaps in terms of salary, employment opportunities, study, etc.
This mega-bill with 91 articles had been prepared and presented, more than a year ago, by the former Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta. However, the official resigned when her government ordered the repression against Mapuche women in Bariloche, without seeing the debate on her proposal in Congress. But although it was announced at length, in the recent plenary of commissions arranged to discuss it, this megaproject had no place.
The difficulty of agreeing on such a broad project proposed by a government in crisis, just a few weeks before the elections, meant that the debate in the lower house ended up revolving around more than forty other proposals, most of which consist of partial modifications to the Labor Contract Law. These are reforms of parental leave periods or incorporation of other reasons for granting this benefit. Among these projects that began to be discussed are several presented by the Left Front, some of which are authored by our PTS benches.
Although the possible approval of some of the projects of the majority parties -surely with limiting amendments- means a relative improvement in the daily life of certain sectors of regularized workers, who have a union and a collective agreement, they are insufficient to resolve a problem. problem that covers a much larger population. Because, according to ILO Argentina, 45% of employed people are not registered or do not have job stability; but if it is disaggregated by gender, among women, that rate is even higher. For this reason, a Cippec report indicates that only 51% of female workers and 47% of male workers receive “maternity and paternity” leaves, since those who work autonomously, informally or under the monotributo regime (sometimes , hiding a dependency employment relationship to avoid tax charges from employers and even public administration!), do not have this right.
According to ILO Argentina, 45% of employed people are not registered or do not have job stability; but if disaggregated by gender, among women, that rate is even higher
Even so, care work does not culminate after a few weeks of a baby’s life, nor is it only required in case of illness of the people in charge. But the government that announces the creation of the SIPC has just completed the construction of only 30 Child Development Centers, out of the 406 promised and budgeted for in 2021, throughout the country. Furthermore, how can one speak of “care” when social items are reduced to comply with the fiscal adjustment agreed with the IMF? Between 2021 and 2023, spending on Health will have been reduced by 35% in real terms, 5.3% on Social Security, 1.2% on Education and Culture, 55% on Housing and 20% on Promotion and Social Assistance, an underfunding in key areas for state support or assistance for care tasks. Areas, too, where the majority of your workers are actually workers.
The SIPC megaproject, in this framework of submission to the IMF, could hardly be taken as a declaration of good intentions, if not it seems more like just an attempt to show something positive in the middle of the electoral campaign. Its 37 pages abound with verbs such as promote, recognize, promote, respect, consider, relieve, articulate, coordinate, encourage… but there are few concrete measures to materially guarantee the universal right to care and the rights of those who carry out this work.
From the opposition of Juntos por el Cambio, nothing can be expected other than greater adjustment and submission to the opinions of the IMF with which they once again indebted the country and several generations, when they were government.
Health workers, Education workers, women organized for the right to housing and those from social movements are the undisputed protagonists of the recent struggles and mobilizations in different parts of the country. As before was the women’s movement for the legalization of abortion, this crisis finds us once again in the front row of the fight.
How can one speak of “care” when social items are reduced to comply with the fiscal adjustment agreed with the IMF?
Capitalism is social degradation and competition for survival
The working class in its permanent bid for the “price” of its workforce, not only gets salary increases. It has also historically made capitalists and the State pay larger portions than they would like of the cost of their reproduction as a social class, that is, care work that is mostly invisible and unpaid: from family allowances, social plans, kindergartens for the employees of certain companies, to the public and free systems of Health, Education, etc.
However, in neoliberalism, many of these conquests were eliminated, curtailed, reduced and degraded, especially harming women, who replace with more hours of unpaid care work what can no longer be acquired in the market or that cannot be purchased. provided by the capitalist state. The mechanism of imperialist plundering of foreign debts in the Latin American countries deepens this deterioration, through the imposition of the adjustment of public spending.
Faced with this situation, the struggles of the social movements of the unemployed and workers of the popular economy, such as cooperatives and factories that operate under the control of their workers, are a sign of active resistance to the social degradation to which the capitalism. But while some are not allowed to aspire to something that goes beyond the limits of subsistence, others are driven by self-exploitation. While the self-managed factories are drowned out by the fierce capitalist competition, the State conditions those who do not have a salary to do care work in their neighborhoods (attending soup kitchens, children’s centers, etc.), to access assistance plans whose amount is nearly half the minimum wage.
The fate that capitalism in crisis has in store for us is the competition of self-managed workers against powerful capitalist companies or the competition between unemployed people – forced to work for much less than an average salary in care tasks, to receive social assistance – with other workers in the sector.
A banner to fight for: socializing care
That’s why the fight is for genuine work with rights. In Argentina, if the working day were reduced to 6 hours and 5 days a week, the hours of work could be divided between the employed and the unemployed and put an end to unemployment, which today reaches one million people, as well as the overexploitation of endless working hours to reach a salary that allows you to survive. A part of these new jobs could be used to transform, to a large extent, care work into salaried occupations and free public social services.
The construction of sustainable neighborhoods, with establishments that cover the basic needs of the community, such as restaurants with cheap or free menus, public laundries, as well as parks, sports fields, clubs, cultural centers with free and open access; the creation of universal childcare centers, with time facilities for families who complete their workday with rotating shifts; Day centers for the elderly that offer comprehensive care to those who are in a situation of dependency are some of the measures that could be required in the process of socializing domestic work and care. The reduction of one salaried working day would not be based on increasing the other, non-salaried and which falls, mainly, on women.
We would have time to imagine new creative, pleasurable, community, and political occupations, even to collectively self-organize. We could expand and explore new forms of sensitivity and affection in caring for others, freed from the personal exhaustion and economic burden in which capitalism traps all ties today. It would be a basis to begin to eliminate “domestic slavery” which, in fact, persistently keeps women in job insecurity and low poverty rates.
A fighting flag that could win the sympathy of millions. The demand for the reduction of the working day, in these terms that we propose here, can become very popular among working women and those who today do not have a job and fight for the survival of their families.
Just a great struggle of the women’s movement, adding to the social movements and unions, the student and environmental movement, organizing ourselves independently of political power and State institutions, to demand in the streets a response to the most pressing needs of the vast majority, can make it possible to reduce the burden of unpaid care work.
Only a great struggle by the women’s movement, adding to the social movements and unions, the student and environmental movement, can make it possible to reduce the burden of unpaid care work.
Socialist feminists will once again be in the front row of this fight, understanding that definitively putting an end to this state of affairs will require a social struggle by all working people. In the transition to a socialist society, the following generations, now freed from that unpaid double shift and having achieved the reduction of their working time to a minimum, will be able to find new definitions for love that are not tied to silent sacrifice, invisible labor and unconditional dedication that today oppresses half of Humanity.