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January 23, 2018
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Massa tries to dissuade unions from striking

Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa in a file photo.
Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa in a file photo.
Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa in a file photo.

Renewal Front leader says ‘a strike isn’t the right path’ as CGT union debates date

Renewal Front party leader Sergio Massa yesterday called on the CGT umbrella union to refrain from work stoppages until all possibilities for dialogue are exhausted, after it was confirmed over the weekend that the union was preparing for a 24-hour nationwide strike.

“I would first tell those who would decide that a strike isn’t the right path,” Massa said yesterday in an interview with La Red radio from Cartagena, Colombia.

Massa is allied with two of the CGT’s leaders, Carlos Acuña and Héctor Daer, who comprise the triumvirate that governs the union, one of the most influential in the country.

“A strike should always be a last case scenario of failed negotiations, and I implore the government and the workers union that they explore every avenue for negotiations,” said the Renewal Front leader.

Massa recognized, however, that pensioners and workers have lost a lot of purchasing power due to inflation, and though he would continue to support President Mauricio Macri’s government when he thinks its policies are heading in the right direction, he would protest policy when he thinks they are mistaken.

Meanwhile, the ATE state employees union confirmed yesterday they would continue with their strike planned for today, a work action of mostly Buenos Aires province teachers’ unions and health professionals. The unions are demanding that wage hike negotiations be reopened because the salary increases that were agreed earlier in the year ended up being below this year’s actual inflation rate.

ATE union leader Hugo “Cachorro” Godoy announced yesterday that his union would lead a nationwide strike to express rejection of various government policies.

The Buenos Aires Teachers Federation (FEB), the SUTEBA teachers union of Buenos Aires province, Private Teachers Union (SADOP), Argentine Teachers Union (UDA) and DAC Argentine Teachers Confederation have all confirmed they will participate.

The Confederation of Education Workers of the Argentine Republic (CTERA) leader Sonia Alesso anticipated that the protest measure would effect the whole education system, from primary schools to universities. “We are calling for the government to invest more in education in their next budget for 2017,” said Alesso. The union leader said that the wage hike negotiations shouldn’t need to take place at various times throughout the year, but instead should be a discussion that should be had in December. “The government speaks about negotiating, but then they don’t receive the unions to discuss these issues,” she complained in an interview with radio El Mundo. The CTERA union leader said that they had asked to meet with different congressional lawmakers so that they could determine their opinions about the upcoming 2017 budget.

While in the medical workers sector, Argentine Federation of Health Professionals (FESPROSA in Spanish) and CICOP’s nationwide health union agreed to adhering to the strike.

Along with the strike, the unions are planning to march to Congress at midday where they will hold a protest demonstration.

About the strike, yesterday ATE’s “Cachorro” Godoy declared, “The CGT is an organization that has decided to give the government more time, waiting for answers they have yet to receive. We aren’t going to wait.”

The ATE union leader complained that even though they had committed to the strike for over a month, the government hadn’t responded to their demands. “The government and their union friend (UPCN state workers’ union) gave us a 27 percent wage hike in three quotas when inflation was 42 percent ... when you add this to the new budget they presented that would implement more cuts, this gives us no choice but to protest,” said Godoy in an interview with Radio Uno. He also argued that the loss of purchasing power was affecting workers in general and that layoffs were getting worse each time.

With regard to the CGT, though its representatives announced it would conduct a strike in the near future, leadership has put off fixing a date. This gives the government time to make them an offer addressing some of their demands, such as the reopening of salary negotiations, limits to imports and the modification of income taxes. The CGT is expected to meet with Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay this Thursday, but many in the union are disappointed that President Macri hasn’t agreed to meet with them.

CTA union leaders, however, believe that the government will not respond to any of their demands and, in the end, the CGT will finally join their strike planned for next month.

—Herald staff with DyN, Télam

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