By Susana Noguera
The National Federation of Truck Workers of Argentina launched a national 24-hour strike Wednesday to protest austerity measures promoted by the government of President Mauricio Macri.
One of the main demands of the union’s chief, Hugo Moyano, is improved working conditions.
The Justicialist Party of Buenos Aires joined the protest and issued a statement alleging that the Macri government wants workers’ organizations to sign collective labor agreements with fewer rights and to accept a nine percent wage increase offered by employers that does not match consumer price inflation.
But the government says the protest lacks a “general justification”.
“Employment has been growing in Argentina over the past 16 months. We’ve seen that during the last year, salaries have overtaken inflation and purchasing power has been strengthened…so there is no reason,” Labor Minister Jorge Triaca told local media.
Workers unions in Argentina are also divided over the motives for the strike. According to the national news agency Telam, large mercantile, health and food service unions believe the strike called by Moyano is being carried out for “personal reasons”.
Some labor unions believe the strike carries with it personal interests and that it will help cover up judicial probes against Moyano, who is also president of the Club Atletico Independiente soccer club which is under investigation by the Argentinian Attorney General´s Office. Moyano is accused of illicit association, money laundering and fraud but denies any wrongdoing, claiming it is part of the government’s persecution of social and opposition leaders.
*Daniela Mendoza and Ahmed Fawzi Mostefai contributed to this report.