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(22,117 posts)
Mon Sep 25, 2017, 05:15 PM Sep 2017

Buenos Aires students and scientists stage sit-ins to protest unpaid internships, cutbacks

Students from over 30 public high schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina, have been staging sit-in strikes this month to protest municipal educational reform proposals that would force high school seniors to participate in unpaid internships.

Budget cutbacks have also prompted over 330 laid-off fellowship holders at the National Research Council (CONICET) to do likewise at the Ministry of Science and Technology, in Buenos Aires' upscale Palermo neighborhood.

President Mauricio Macri's right-wing administration has repudiated the sit-ins, with Justice Minister Germán Garavano calling them “illegal” despite a court ruling last week that authorized them.

Students are mainly protesting proposals to have senior-year students spend “50% of their time in businesses and organizations, applying what they learned based on their talents and interests.” They argue that this is in fact a cover to provide companies free labor, while leaving little time for their studies.

The proposals, moreover, were not submitted to public comment from teachers, students, and educational NGOs, as current law mandates. Student leaders note as well that the unpaid internship clause was left out of the city's original draft - but discovered only because it had been accidentally published in the city's own website.

High school representatives met with municipal Education Minister Soledad Acuña last week; but negotiations failed. No further meetings have as yet been announced.

The Macri administration has come under fire from teachers' unions and much of the nation's progressive political spectrum for attempting to impose curriculum changes by decree and for cutbacks of 20% in real educational spending since taking office two years ago.

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, currently running for the Senate, sided with students. She encouraged students to fight for what they consider right, arguing that “everyone has a right to express their views.”

“You don’t have to say 'yes' to everything,” she said in a rally last Friday. “It’s not democratic, and don’t let yourselves be pushed over - because they (the government) will try to.”

At: http://www.thebubble.com/education-reform-justice-minister-says-occupying-schools-is-illegal-as-students-begin-fifth-week-of-protests/

No to "high schools of the future" - the euphemism used by the city government to describe its educational reform decree.
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Buenos Aires students and scientists stage sit-ins to protest unpaid internships, cutbacks (Original Post) sandensea Sep 2017 OP
Maybe not news to many here but unpaid, abusive internships happen in the US. gtar100 Sep 2017 #1
Well said. sandensea Sep 2017 #2
Best wishes to these people. They have decency on their side. Shocking situation. Judi Lynn Sep 2017 #3
They indeed have decency - and the law itself - on their side. sandensea Sep 2017 #4


(4,192 posts)
1. Maybe not news to many here but unpaid, abusive internships happen in the US.
Tue Sep 26, 2017, 12:21 AM
Sep 2017

And they often expect the interns to work 12 to 16 hour days, 7 days a week. My daughter has been through a few because they are "required" by the schools she has attended. When employers do them well, they have been terrific learning experiences. But she's been through some really bad ones too and has heard her classmates complain too.

Our labor laws are a thin veil protecting us from people willing to abuse others if given half a chance. Even a sliver of opportunity and suddenly... long days, no days off, no benefits, not even food or a place to live is provided to people who are volunteering their time and their talents. But these schmucks come out of the woodworks who see internships as an opportunity for free labor. Assholes... by definition!

It's sick. People who use "business" as an excuse to mistreat or otherwise disrespect others are sick. May they all get what they so richly deserve!


(22,117 posts)
2. Well said.
Tue Sep 26, 2017, 12:17 PM
Sep 2017

Unpaid internships, while they may be justified up to a point in settings like Wall Street or high-powered law firms (where the payoff will more than compensate), have become veritable loopholes around labor laws and just another corporate heist in many cases.

At the very least, high-schoolers should never have to take part in them as a graduation requirement (as this decree in Buenos Aires would have it).

Thank you for your insights, and All the Best to your daughter.

Judi Lynn

(161,081 posts)
3. Best wishes to these people. They have decency on their side. Shocking situation.
Wed Sep 27, 2017, 06:31 PM
Sep 2017

So glad Cristina Fernández stands behind them, is not letting the fascists shut her down!


(22,117 posts)
4. They indeed have decency - and the law itself - on their side.
Wed Sep 27, 2017, 08:30 PM
Sep 2017

The federal law that governs internships for students specifically states that these cannot be used as prerequisites for graduation - as the municipal decree presumes to do.

This law was passed in 2008 (signed by former President Cristina Kirchner) precisely because the private sector had been using internships to get around labor laws. Why pay wages, after all, when you can avail yourself of an army of high schoolers - particularly if they need the internships to graduate.

Argentina, like most countries in the region, already has a serious problem with unregistered labor - i.e. workers without legally-mandated health insurance, social security contributions, etc. This is partly the legacy of labor law deregulation during the Menem/de la Rúa years, when the incidence of unregistered labor doubled to 45%.

It came down to 30% during the Kirchner years; but has been creeping up again since then (to 33%). A flood of unpaid interns (the city's roughly 30,000 high school seniors) would only exacerbate this. It goes without saying that those without connections (the majority) would get a lot less out of said internships, and that dropout rates would probably go up as well.

Thanks as always, Judi, for your time and thoughts. Enjoy the autumn leaves!

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