Argentina will today grind to a near halt with a general strike lasting from midday Monday until midday Tuesday, the country’s main union confederation the CGT announced this morning.
Unions are protesting a vote in the Lower House today on a bill that would modify adjustments to welfare payments, saving the government 100 billion pesos (US$5.7 billion) but stripping pensioners of payment increases that fend off the impact of Argentina’s chronic inflation.
In the fall-out over violent clashes on Thursday between rock-wielding protesters and Gendarmerie officers who injured over 30 people with rubber bullets and water canons, including journalists, the government on Friday committed to bonus payments for pensioners that would ease the effects of the reform.
Such promises are expected to be a legal and financial nightmare for the government, and a rejuvenated and strangely-united opposition has committed to fighting tooth and nail against any changes to the pension system.
Latam and Aerolineas Argentinas are adhering to the strike, and this morning began cancelling and reprogramming flights from Buenos Aires’ Aeroparque and Ezeiza airports. An estimated 20,000 passengers will be affected.
The CGT’s general strike will generally not affect public transport services during Monday, CGT boss Carlos Schmidt told journalists at a press conference in San Telmo on Monday morning.
However, public bus and train workers will join in on the strike for 12 hours from midnight until Tuesday midday.
Also, the subte underground service will cease to operate from 6pm Monday and the A Line will not stop at Congress station, where protesters had began gathering this morning.
The CGT says it may extend the strike if the government’s pension reform bill passes the Lower House today.