December 19, 2014
Left-wing groups vow roadblocks in strike
The national strike that opposition unions have called for tomorrow is expected to affect most means of public transport and the main access points to Buenos Aires City, as left-wing groups have called for an “active” walkout that will include roadblocks on strategic roads and avenues.
Two days before the stoppage, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday called for “rationality” but defended the workers’ “right to strike” during a speech transmitted via national broadcast.
“We’ll prioritize dialogue in times when some people want to return to cruelty,” the head of state said during a rally at the Tecnópolis science and technological centre, located in the Greater Buenos Aires district of Villa Martelli.
“Let’s bring rationality back” into the current context, Fernández de Kirchner said.
The head of state was joined by Vice President Amado Boudou, Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli, and national lawmakers from the ruling Victory Front (FpV).
The strike was initially called by anti-government CGT leaders Hugo Moyano and Luis Barrionuevo, but quickly gained support from the anti-government CTA umbrella union headed by state workers representative Pablo Micheli.
Yesterday, the Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS), social movement Barrios de Pie and other organizations called for “mass mobilizations and picket lines” in different access routes to Buenos Aires City and the Greater Buenos Aires area.
“We’re calling for an active strike because, even though we agree with Hugo Moyano and Luis Barrionuevo in rejecting austerity measures, we’re pushing a deeper agenda,” PTS provincial lawmaker Christian Castillo said.
Barrios de Pie coordinator Daniel Menéndez also supported the measure but called to “clearly express” the workers’ opposition to soaring inflation levels, in an attempt to differentiate himself from the main demands brought forward by the CGT, which have more to do with the income tax floor that is currently set at 15,000 pesos.
But yesterday Fernández de Kirchner challenged the view “that everything is horrible and that everything is crap.”
“You can talk about the bad things, but please, also speak of what can be done,” the president said during her speech.
Train and bus services are expected to grind to a halt tomorrow as the unions that represent key transport workers will join the national strike called by dissident union leaders.
The protest could also halt the collection of garbage and the supply of cash in ATMs, as Moyano heads the teamsters’ union, which is expected to join industrial action as well.
The measure will also affect bars and restaurants as a result of the restaurant workers’ union (headed by Barrionuevo) joining the protest.
The pro-government UPCN state workers union announced it will not join the measure, while ATE state workers grouped under the anti-government CTA are expected to remain at home.
At press time, subway workers were expected to decide whether they will join the protest, though B Line representative Claudio Dellecarbonara has already vowed he would use “everything in his power to get workers to strike” to complain about “the lose of purchasing power and government-sponsored austerity measures.”
Tension in the air
Moyano vowed not to spark any violence, but said the national administration may try to resort to it to delegitimize the strike.
“The government is trying to weaken our protest and the strike through all means, so we need to be careful,” the teamsters leader said. “I distrust the government more than any other sector of society.”
Labour Minister Carlos Tomada said it will be “difficult to evaluate” the alleged success of tomorrow’s strike because the result will be “affected by roadblocks and lack of transport.”
The official said that “75 percent of workers in the (pro-government) CGT led by (Antonio) Caló will not join the strike” and that most businesses will be open as the measure called by Moyano and Barrionuevo unfolds.
In the same line as the head of state, Tomada said that the national government will respect “the workers’ right to strike guaranteed by 30 years of democracy.”
Asked whether the strike is in any way related to Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa, the official said that “Barrionuevo has a long record of building union power for future candidates.”
Herald staff with DyN, Télam