Argentina Unions Protest Government Job Cuts

Thousands of demonstrators march in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7.Thousands of demonstrators march in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7.

Argentina’s most powerful unions brought tens of thousands of people into the capital’s streets on Tuesday to protest government job cuts, the lifting of restrictions on imports and other policies of President Mauricio Macri.

During the march organized by the CGT Labor Federation and backed by other unions, demonstrators waved banners and white and blue national flags and blocked traffic along the main avenues of Buenos Aires, AP reported.

Unionists also asked for salary hikes to keep up with the high inflation and threatened to stage a nationwide strike in March or April if their demands are not met by Macri’s government.

Tens of thousands of state employees have been fired since Macri took office last year, vowing to reduce spending and consumer prices.

Macri says the measures are needed to revive Argentina’s weak economy, attract investments and end economic distortions under Macri’s populist predecessor that fanned an inflation rate of around 40%, one of the highest in the world.

The layoffs have hit particularly hard in Argentina’s metallurgical industry where 17,567 workers lost jobs between December 2015 and January 2017, according to the Argentine Center for Economic Policy, an opposition think tank.

The job cuts, elimination of tariffs aimed at protecting the local industry and the slashing of utility subsidies have fueled labor unrest ahead of this year’s congressional elections, which are seen as key if Macri wants to continue implementing pro-market policies praised by foreign investors.


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