Argentina was not open for business on Monday as workers in transportation, banks, public schools, gas stations, and other sectors sit the day out or else engage in blocking key streets in protest to President Macri’s taxation, austerity program, and deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Argentine workers’ unions and social movements protest President Macri’s economic policies and reject his government’s agreement with IMF.
Argentina’s most important workers’ unions paralyzed the country Monday in the third general strike to protest President Mauricio Macri’s economic policies and to reject an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The national strike called for by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), which has around three million members, was joined by the Workers’ Central Union (CTA) other workers’ organizations and social movements.
There will be no transportation nationwide. Air and maritime transport have been brought to a halt. Public schools, banks and gas stations will not open Monday.
A representative of the CGT said the strike is a response to “the veto to the tariffs’ reduction approved by Congress, the agreement with the IMF and the consequences they have on employment, public works, social security, and regional economies that dramatically worsen the already unbearable social situation.”
The CGT had warned Macri’s government they would respond with a general strike if he vetoed the law to roll back water, electricity and gas tariffs to November 2017 prices.
Monday’s strike brings together unions that are generally more inclined to negotiate with the central government as well as those that are more combative.
Although no street actions were planned, the strike will be accompanied by roadblocks organized by left-wing political groups and activists, including the Workers’ Party and the Workers’ Socialist Movement.
Argentine workers have organize two general strikes before, in April and December 2017. Despite these actions, Macri’s government has continued to push austerity policies that disproportionately affect the working class, while investors and agribusinesses receive economic incentives.
Government officials have responded to the strike by accusing workers and social movements of searching for conflict and stressing the cost of the strike for the Argentine economy. “They search for conflict for conflict’s sake,” labor minister Jorge Triaca said.
Argentine workers have witnessed the reduction of their real salaries due to increasing inflation, and the government’s unwillingness to raise wages to match inflation levels. Furthermore, Argentines are struggling with rising numbers in unemployment, exacerbated by massive layoffs in the public sector by the Macri government as part of austerity measures.
These austerity measures are much like those experienced by Argentines before, and like those imposed on other nations. Investors are treated like royalty while the average citizen is treated as little better than a foreigner. Citizens are taxed while watching the purchasing power of their income drop like a rock, while the government drastically reduces any public services which it is normally expected to provide to the citizenry. But these are only the economic and public measures which the IMF demanded before issuing credit to the South American nation. Its social requirements aren’t mentioned in the economic perspective, and are ongoing, even as the same issues are raised by Western backed NGOs in other neighboring nations.