December 19, 2014
Bank workers paralyse services with 24-hour national strike
Bank workers today brought services to a halt as they carried out a 24-hour national strike, despite orders from the government for mandatory conciliation on the eve of industrial action.
The union which represents employees in the sector decided to ignore the Labour Ministry's request and carry out the stoppage, which nonetheless was adhered to unevenly across the country.
Customer services were virtually non-existent throughout the day, while some ATMs ran out of funds for withdrawal and the elderly experienced difficulties in receiving pensions, despite the efforts of the ANSES agency to aid payments.
Banking Association (BA) Secretary General Sergio Palazzo had predicted earlier workers would be "widely" joining today’s strike, warning the union could go further in its demands and have collective bargaining talks reopened.
“We have ratified the force measure. And we know adherence will be widespread,” Palazzo told reporters this morning adding the BA would be “analysing the scope of the mandatory conciliation” issued by the Labour Ministry earlier in the week once the walkout finishes.
Granting an interview to a radio show, the union leader renewed demands to update the income tax floor, one of the main slogans for today’s 24-hour-strike affecting customer service operations nationwide.
“If the government does not update income tax, we will demand banks to take responsibility for that tax or eventually demand salary talks to be reopened,” Palazzo pointed out as he criticised Argentina’s economic situation. “An economy with interest rates of 26-29 percent can hardly grow. And if that continues, it will affect employment.”
Although the BA secretary general said inflation has begun to slow down, he considered the increase of prices is still negatively impacting on workers’ purchasing power.
“Despite a slowing down in the inflationary process, a 2-percent monthly inflation is still high. As long as this is not suitably controlled, the purchasing power that has been obtained during collective bargaining talks will be lost before the end of the year and the reopening of salary negotiations will have to be discussed.”