Rethinking Working-class Politics: Organising Informal Workers in Argentina
Our article engages with discussions about the implications of precarious work and its impact on workers’ capacity to organise by analysing the case of Argentina’s Confederation of Popular Economy Workers (CTEP, Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular). The organisation was created in 2011 with the aim of representing a broad and heterogeneous group of workers in varying conditions of informality, precarious self-employment and workfare programmes. We trace the history of the organisation and analyse its development by focusing on the role of social assistance as a crucial expression of the changing relations between precarious workers and the state. Social assistance has provided some resources for addressing the reproduction needs of precarious workers and of the territories in which they live, and also the material means through which an organisation like CTEP has sought to consolidate its political work among precarious workers. Nonetheless, social assistance has also worked as a means to circumscribe broader demands for change into issues to be addressed through social policy. Our argument is that central to CTEP’s trajectory as an organisation of precarious workers was its attempt to break away from the narrow confines of social assistance, pushing for changes that would allow its members to gain some autonomy both materially and institutionally.
KEYWORDS: Argentina; precarious worker organisations; CTEP; social assistance policy
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