December 13, 2013
Strike halts subway Line B again
The long conflict between the Buenos Aires subway workers union, the Buenos Aires City government and the the Subte licensee company Metrovías led to another nightmare Friday after a strike was called on Line B prompting traffic jams as commuters were left stranded. Line B was again in the eye of the storm after an unexpected 24- hour strike was called and a harsh exchange between union leaders and City officials.
According to Claudio Dellecarbonara, a Line B union leader, trains will run again at 5am today, but workers can’t guarantee there will be no further delays until Buenos Aires Subways (SBASE) and Metrovías complete at the news stations, Esteban Echeverría and Juan Manuel de Rosas in the Villa Urquiza neighbourhood.
The AGTSyP breakaway union secretary-general Roberto Pianelli made it clear yesterday in an improvised press conference after leaving a meeting with officials at the City’s Labour Office: “Until new the stations are completed and new trains are operating, passengers will suffer an irregular service”.
Both Dellecarbonara and Pianelli were summoned yesterday by the City government and Metrovías, in a desperate bid to call off the ongoing strike before the rush hour to avoid further foul temper by commuters. But the meeting did not come up with a solution.
“Technical conditions are not the ones required to work,” said Dellecarbonara during an interview on Continental Radio early in the morning when he explained why travellers were met with empty stations or shut gates. “Fixing technical failures in the Alem-Rosas Subte route is not our responsibility but that of Metrovías. Workers are just a scapegoat,” he said.
On Thursday night, at about 7pm, Line B trains stopped running when the signal system at the new Juan Manuel de Rosas terminal station in Villa Urquiza broke down preventing trains from completing the route. Passengers stranded at Los Incas station were furious. Police had to move in when commuters clashed with employees at a ticket office.
After several weeks of poor running services due to strikes, union workers still alleged unsafe working conditions at the recently-inaugurated stops while commuters complained that they were hostage of a labour conflict.
“Metrovías and Buenos Aires Subways have no knowledge at all about public transport and all the problems are due to the poor train conditions. Convoys aren’t prepared for the 60,000 passengers that now use the subway on this new route,” said Dellecarbonara.
But Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri didn’t agree with unionist perspective: “Subway union leaders must understand that abuses of power due to believing they own something they don’t can cause high levels of irritation”.
Macri said that the “strike belongs to a period that is ending” even though “union workers do not want to accept it.”
“Union workers: we, Line B travellers users, detest you. Get to work and stop doing politics. Thank you”, wrote on her tweeter account PRO lawmaker Laura Alonso, who is seeking re-election to the Lower House of Congress in October. She was not the only PRO official to make aggressive comments.
“They said there were unsafe conditions, leaks, the garage area for manoeuvring was out of service... And now they don’t feel safe because people insulted them. We believe that they started giving excuses the moment we opened new stops,” Juan Pablo Piccardo, the head of SBASE, said.
What’s more, he raised the bet when aiming directly at Dellecarbonara and other subway union leaders for the high salaries they received: “If they don’t want to work, then they should step aside. Claudio Dellecarbonara earns 16,500 pesos for a 4-hour-and-a-half shift. City government is making a huge effort to take manage the subway, investing lots of money to improve the service and opening new stops. It’s a shame that 50 guys can harm another 300,000 (who use Subte Line B every day).”
Herald with Telam, DyN