Buenos Aires Times

argentina LABOUR UNREST

Strike brings nation's streets to a standstill

Many workers stayed home Tuesday as the strike made commuting a puzzle, and some demonstrators blocked highways.

Tuesday 25 September, 2018
A man rides a bike past the Retiro station during the nationwide strike.
A man rides a bike past the Retiro station during the nationwide strike. Foto:AP-Natacha Pisarenko

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A nationwide strike to protest the government's handling of the country's economic crisis brought the country to a standstill today, grounding flights and paralyzing bus and train lines and forcing the closure of the main agricultural port.

Many workers stayed home Tuesday as the strike made commuting a puzzle, and some demonstrators blocked highways.

Banks, courts, and many schools and shops were closed. Airports were deserted, with all flights in and out of the country cancelled. Many hospitals offered only emergency services and garbage wasn't being picked up.

"We want to show our discontent in the streets," said Katylin Balaguer, who said she was among more than 500 employees who were laid off last year after PepsiCo closed a plant on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

"Many of us are suffering, not just because we lost our jobs, but because we can't find a new one," she said surrounded by other flag-waving demonstrators at a bridge in the capital that was closely guarded by police officers in riot gear.

In the nation's capital, streets were for the most part calm. Downtown, baffled tourists were seen taking selfies on empty streets normally bustling with traffic, like Avenida 9 de Julio.

The stoppage was led by labour unions protesting austerity measures ordered by President Mauricio Macri.

Argentines are frustrated with high consumer prices and a sharp devaluation of the peso currency.

Many also oppose the government's decision to strike a financing deal with the International Monetary Fund because they blame the IMF for Argentina's worst crisis in 2001.

- TIMES/AFP/AP

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