The largest union federation in Argentina calls a general strike one month in advance. This leaves time to reach an agreement with the Milei government.

General strike in Argentina

General strike: a demonstration against the reform plans of Argentine President Milei Photo: telam/dpa

BUENOS AIRES taz | Argentine unions have called for a general strike against the policies of libertarian president Javier Milei. “We cannot accept that everything is liberalized and limits are placed on salaries,” said Héctor Daer, of the board of directors of the three-member CGT union.

The loss of purchasing power in income has accelerated dramatically since Milei took office in December. Both salaries and pensions cannot keep up with monthly inflation rates in the double-digit percentage range. In February the poverty line was just under 700,000 pesos. That same month, the government increased the minimum wage for the first time to 180,000 pesos.

At the same time, a wave of layoffs is sweeping the public sector after the president demanded a 15 percent reduction in all ministries, authorities and state institutions. At the end of March alone, around 15,000 expired employment contracts were not renewed.

The General Confederation of Labor cited the fall in real wages, the massive wave of layoffs in the public sector and the government's decision not to accept industrial collective agreements with wage increases of more than twelve percent as reasons for the strike announcement. .

The opposition to Milei seems weak and divided

It would be the second general strike in the president's relatively short term. The first took place on January 24 with a mobilization in front of the Congress building in Buenos Aires. This time the unions want to paralyze the country on May 9, without mobilizing in the streets.

On Wednesday, the leaders of the coordinating organization sat down for the first time at the table with the government. The meeting between the union leaders and Milei's chief of staff, Nicolás Posse, and the Minister of the Interior, Guillermo Francos, in the presidential palace, would have been open and friendly, but without concrete results. The absence of the CGT director, Pablo Moyano, vice president of the powerful transport workers union 'Camioneros', drew attention.

Moyano had been pressing for a second general strike for days. The fact that the CGT board has now unanimously decided to call a strike, but has chosen May 9 for it, is not a sign of strength and will to fight, but rather shows the internal disunity of the CGT. union leadership. It was later said that the GGT was almost prevented from breaking.

Calling a strike one month in advance leaves enough time for a possible agreement between the unions and the Government. Manager Héctor Daer has already indicated the direction. “It is unacceptable that the state ignores wage negotiations and does not approve the results once agreed upon,” Daer said in his speech on Thursday. As surprisingly quickly as the general strike was announced, it could be canceled again with surprising speed.

The government and the president are aware of all this. Milei has the support of the population, which in surveys is around 50 percent despite inflation and social misery. And he benefits from the opposition's lack of leadership. Former president Cristina Kirchner has remained silent for weeks, as has former Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who was defeated in the second round of elections. All of these are circumstances that irritate union leaders and make them fear a general strike without strikers.