BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s main labor federation brought thousands onto the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to protest the economic policies of conservative President Mauricio Macri and threaten a national strike if the government doesn’t change course.
Though the event was organized by the Confederacion General del Trabajo (CGT), union workers were joined by opposition groups and by members of organizations representing small and medium-sized businesses.
Both unemployment and poverty have worsened since Macri took office in December 2015.
Last year, the government convened a dialogue between organized labor and employers, but talks broke down after some companies declined to adhere to a moratorium on layoffs.
Carlos Acuña, part of the CGT leadership troika, pointed out that in 2016, unions agreed to settle for pay increases in the range of 25-30 percent based on the government’s forecast of 24 percent inflation, yet the actual inflation rate was closer to 40 percent.
One of the factors driving inflation has been the massive increase in utility rates imposed by the Macri administration.
The CGT says that government policies have had the effect of favoring imports at the expense of domestic industry, especially smaller and mid-sized manufacturers.
“If there is no correction to the policies, we will make a show of force before the end of the month,” CGT co-leader Hector Daer said. “There will be a strike, but the strike has to be like this march, accompanied by all the sectors of society.”
Tuesday’s mobilization coincided with the second day of a national teachers strike amid growing discontent among workers.