January 23, 2018
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

CGT escalates ‘strike’ threat

CGT leaders Carlos Acuña, Héctor Daer and Juan Carlos Schmid and other union members meet with Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, and Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio to discuss their labour union’s demands, earlier this month.

Union and gov’t meet tomorrow to discuss end-of-year bonus, income taxes and other demands

With the government’s 10-day grace period set to expire tomorrow, the CGT umbrella union warned yesterday that it will mobilize and organize an imminent general strike if it doesn’t receive an adequate response to the demands of its members.

The renewed ultimatum came just one day after teamsters’ leader Pablo Moyano threatened to break with the CGT if no action was taken, with temperatures both inside the union and with the government rising.

The CGT, arguably the most powerful union in the country, called on President Mauricio Macri’s administration to give them answers over an additional end-of-year bonus, the removal of income taxes applied to the normal end-of-year bonus, increases for salaries that have been eaten up by inflation, and bonuses proposed for people on welfare programmes and pensioners.

If Macri’s Cabinet doesn’t give the union any satisfactory proposals to their demands, the CGT promised to put their words to action and go on strike.

“If the response from the government isn’t satisfactory, there will be a strike,” announced Carlos Acuña, who is part of the triumvirate leading the union. Acuña, and the other two CGT bosses, Héctor Daer and Juan Carlos Schmid, will meet with government authorities at the Labour ministry at 9am tomorrow to discuss the administration’s proposals.

UTA transport union leader and CGT’s Housing and Tourism secretary Roberto Fernández, believed that it was most likely that they would end up striking due to the latest signals they were receiving from the government. He said that although it was good that they were meeting with the government ministers, they really needed to “sit with the president in order to start searching for a way out.”

Don’t rush it

But Fernández still criticized several union leaders for being “too rushed” and said that “fighting wouldn’t help anyone.” “We want to sit down, talk and look for a way out of this for everyone. The government has promised a lot but it hasn’t fulfilled its promises, but that doesn’t mean we need to begin measures that could bring very serious consequences,” he said.

Fernández said that they needed to seriously discuss how to rein in inflation. Although he recognized that it was slowing down, he complained that it was at the cost of workers losing their purchasing power. The CGT leader suggested that they needed to negotiate what type of labour and economic policies the government needs to implement, and for that to happen they needed to come to an agreement between business leaders, the government and workers, otherwise, unemployment and poverty would climb further. “The government needs to come to the CGT’s headquarters and announce what employment opportunities it will create, and how are we going to get out of this difficult economic situation,” the union leader said.

CGT finance secretary Abel Frutos also confirmed that a strike would be called, and that they only needed to fix a date. “Officially we don’t have anything organized; there’s only speculation made by the news sites that are based on remarks of different leaders or a minister, but we hope to have a meeting on Wednesday,” said Frutos.

The influential Rodolfo Daer agreed with his colleagues. “The strike is inevitable if the government continues not giving the answers that the workers are hoping for, and remains unaware of the malaise and tension that exist for the majority of Argentines,” said Daer.

He called on the government to start taking care of the social emergency that the country is suffering, and that it needed to recognize the work social organizations are doing to help the millions of unemployed who could have been recruited by drug-traffickers or organized crime.

Dissent within

Although the CGT leadership almost confirmed yesterday that they would strike, other union leaders have upped the pressure on the triumvirate to take more assertive action or they would leave. “In this moment we are leaving, this isn’t the time for the weak,” said UDA teachers union leader Sergio Romero and member of the CGT’s board, in an interview with Clarín yesterday. This comes after Moyano over the weekend accused the CGT of not having “any balls to govern. And that if there isn’t a concrete decision taken, there wouldn’t be any CGT.”

Moyano has accused Let’s Change of only benefitting a certain sector of society after tax breaks were given to the farm and mining sector, while the purchasing power and job opportunities for workers fell. “It has become very clear that the government governs for the rich,” he said.

Herald with DyN, Telam

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