BUENOS AIRES – The union representing most of Argentina’s public employees mounted a one-day strike on Wednesday to press demands for a pay increase.
“The work stoppage by state employees arises in a context in which the government of Mauricio Macri turns a deaf ear to workers facing a loss of purchasing power,” the ATE union said in a statement.
Citing official statistics, the ATE pointed out that inflation climbed above 40 percent in 2016, while public employees got a raise of 31 percent.
The ATE demanded the immediate resumption of pay talks to address last year’s loss as well as the level of compensation for 2017.
“At the same time, we view with concern the increasing violence that the government applies to workers who organize to fight for their right,” the union said, denouncing “the criminalization of social protest.”
Wednesday’s walkout is to be accompanied by rallies and a march in Buenos Aires.
The job action by public employees follows last week’s first general strike since the conservative Macri took office in December 2015.
Both unemployment and poverty have worsened under Macri and last year’s high inflation was due in part to the government’s decision to impose whopping increases in utility rates.
More than 30 percent of Argentines live below the poverty line, according to official figures released this month.
Demonstrations against the government’s economic program have drawn not only workers and political activists, but also owners of small and medium-sized businesses who say that their firms have been hurt by policies favoring imports.
For the moment, Argentina’s hottest labor conflict pits the Macri administration against public school teachers, who Tuesday held their ninth one-day strike of the academic term.