A strike by unionised workers demanding higher wages that brought tyre production to a complete halt in Argentina has been lifted after representatives confirmed a deal had been reached with government officials and company executives.
The dispute, which also stopped activity at several automotive firms, was finally resolved early Friday morning after more than 14 hours of meetings between the Cámara del Neumático employers' organisation and the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores del Neumático (SUBNA) union union at the Labour Ministry.
The parties reportedly agreed on a 16 percent adjustment for the fifth tranche of the 2021/2022 wage review, thus totalling a 66 percent wage increase for that period. A one-off bonus payment of 100,000 Argentine pesos (about US$650 at today's exchange rate) for each employee will also be made. A further wage increase of 63 percent will run, via five instalments, until July 2023.
The deal must be approved by a workers' assembly convened for later today. Analysts expect work at producers Bridgestone, Fate and Pirelli is expected to get back underway shortly.
SUTNA's representatives agreed a deal after "a wide exchange of opinions, hearings and meetings." The agreement "guarantees social peace and allows the staff to resume the provision of services at their usual workplaces," the Labour Ministry said in a statement.
Talks over the dispute have run for more than 100 days without agreement, but the situation escalated dramatically last weekend when 5,600 workers from three firms launched strike action. Activity at factories owned by Bridgestone, Pirelli and Fate was stopped almost immediately, with the lack of tyres also stopping work at automotive plants owned Toyota and Ford.
Economy Minister Sergio Massa threatened on Wednesday to open tyre imports if the conflict was not resolved quickly.
Union reps have been demanding a significant improvement in the 50 percent wage increase provided for in their existing collective-bargaining agreement in order to cope with inflation. They say that there has been a sharp rise in tyre prices and an increase in production due to industrial recovery.
Consumer prices have risen 56.4 percent since the turn of the year. The Central Bank’s most recent survey of market expectations forecast a final rate of more than 90 percent this year.
Economic activity accumulated an increase of 6.4 percent and unemployment fell from 9.6 percent to 6.9% year-on-year in the first half of the year, according to data published by the INDEC national statistics bureau.
Argentina's automotive industry grew by 69 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, when the pandemic brought it to a near standstill. Production last year reached some 430,000 units.