ATILRA maintains mobilizations

Taselli Group hides the milk supply

ATILRA (Dairy Industry Workers Association of Argentina) is in permanent session in a follow-up of the tacit lock-out imposed by the Taselli Group in its plants, which were bought to the ex-Parmalat company. Almost 900 jobs are in jeopardy. 


On 31 January last in the morning hours, hundreds of workers on a camp organized by ATILRA in the area of Pilar, blockaded the No. 2 motorway at Chascomús. This No. 2 motorway joins the capital Buenos Aires with the southern seaside resorts and, at the end of January, there is a swap of holiday-makers what means very heavy traffic on the road. When the traffic jam was almost ten kilometers long, the Police went against the demonstrators and cleared the way.


The workers’ industrial action prompted an immediate response from the Ministry of Labor Carlos Tomada, who urgently summoned them together with Sergio Taselli, owner of the ex-Parmalat plants, among which is the plant in Gándara. In this plant, male and female workers have not had a pay-check for four months, and in all Taselli-managed plants no milk has been received for months.


Héctor Ponce, ATILRA secretary general, was consulted by the IUF and he assessed the situation: “We had an audience with the Ministry of Labor, where we were dictated a mandatory conciliation, an instance we rejected because it does not respect the due process of law”


- Why?

- Because there is a “Breach of Contract exception”. There is no real reactivation of these companies and there is a management lock-out, since they have emptied the plant of its essential: milk, but furthermore, salary payments are 4 months in arrears and December half salary bonus has not been paid either.  Our legislation clearly sets forth that timely salary payment is the employer’s obligation, which is in the essence of the contract between employer and employee, and given its fundamental nature, non performance cannot be excused by any reason whatsoever. Therefore, when the employer does not pay, the worker is released from his/her obligation of service, and this is what emerges from this case. Mandatory conciliation applies when there is a conflict of rights, and in such situation it is reasonable that workers would remain in their posts, but here there is an evident and continual event of default or a breach of contract by the employer.


- So, what happens next?

- We stated we are in permanent session and, together with the plenary of secretaries general, we are vigilant and on the alert of company developments over the next hours, i.e. whether they will pay the salaries or not, and based upon that, we will make our decisions that will definitely involve the whole of our trade union organization. Obviously we have foreseen a series of measures, among them the complete work stoppage of the dairy industry nationwide.


- How many workers does the dairy industry have?

- We are 25 thousand male and female workers in the country. We will make our decisions as events move forward.


- How is people’s morale?

- Despite the distressing situation, that workers and their families are worn out and suffer severe social and economic hardship, I think the group’s morale is excellent. The permanent support, encouragement and solidarity from the rest of the industry workers in the country have strong influence. As a trade union organization, this is extremely valuable and helps us a lot.


- How do people solve their day-to-day needs when they have not had an income for so long?

- We support them within our possibilities, with the solidarity from the union and the rest of the workers. We distribute food among the families, but the situation constantly worsens. When we had the camp in Pilar we had a popular pot, and we survive thank to our fellow-workers’ solidarity.


- What do you expect over the next hours?

- We are open to have contacts with a view to real, far-reaching solutions which would bring security to the workers. Meanwhile, we are still mobilized and in permanent session.


Carlos Amorín

© Rel-UITA

February 6, 2006



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