Argentine Steel Workers Win 24% Wage Rise to Offset Inflation

Argentina’s Labor Ministry, steel workers union and companies agreed to a wage rise of 24 percent, an increase in line with economists’ estimates of inflation over the past year.

About 250,000 workers will get a 17 percent increase from April 1 and an additional 7 percent from July 1, according to the presidential website. A one-time bonus of 1,400 pesos ($267) will be paid in two installments in November and January.

Private economists calculate inflation was 23.7 percent in the 12 months to the end of April. The official statistics agency, which will publish its April consumer price report at 4 p.m. in Buenos Aires, says annual inflation was 10.6 percent to March 30. The gap between private estimates and official data has expanded since early 2007, when then-President Nestor Kirchner changed personnel at the statistics agency, raising doubts among economists, politicians and the International Monetary Fund about the accuracy of the data.

Consumer prices rose 1.52 percent in April and 23.67 percent from a year earlier, according to a survey of private economists released yesterday by opposition lawmaker Patricia Bullrich.

Members of Congress began to report the private inflation estimates in May 2011, after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government fined economists for releasing price data that differed from official statistics. Opposition lawmakers release the estimates without naming the analysts who participate in the survey. On May 13, appeals courts dismissed the fines, saying that the economists didn’t violate any laws.

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