Several Argentine trucker unions are organizing a nationwide strike on Thursday that will culminate at the Buenos Aires Plaza de Mayo. They are protesting against the government’s refusal to negotiate with them amidst the country’s collapsing economy and President Macri’s decision to rescue the nation with a US$50 billion IMF loan.
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Hugo Moyano, leader of the powerful General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union told the press, "not even a wheelbarrow will be moved." The CGT is demanding from the government a 27 percent salary hike. Government officials had tried to convince union leaders to call off Thursday’s boycott, but Moyano and others said it’s still happening.
"We are going through an economic recession with greater inequality and we have people that suffer from the adjustment policies that are now going to worsen as the president plunges us into the arms of the IMF," said Hugo Yasky from the Argentine Workers’ Centre (CTA) trade federation.
On Tuesday the peso sank again setting its value against the dollar at 26.50. Gas, water, and electric rates have increased some 1300 percent since November. Congress had passed a bill earlier this month that would have rolled back these energy prices to what they were eight months ago, however, president Mauricio Macri vetoed it. Instead, he celebrated the receipt of a US$50 billion IMF loan, the same fund organization that wiped out the Argentine economy 18 years ago, something that many of today’s union leaders suffered though.
Thursday will see not only a stoppage of cargo across the country but public schools, hospitals, and many public administration offices will be shut down.
Union leader Omar Plaini was already looking at what the workers’ next move would be when the boycott is over, "The situation in the country does not mean that we only do a national strike … we all know that the national strike is sometimes a necessary escape valve but it is not enough because the next day the problems continue." Trade and professional unions, along with social organizations have been protesting seemingly nonstop for the past year against Macri’s onslaught of austerity measures that show no sign on stopping.
The truckers were joined by educational unions, among others. Buenos Aires teachers’ unions are getting ready for their provincial-level march on Friday.