Argentine Strike Halts Flights to Buses on Tax DemandsDaniel Cancel and Charlie Devereux
A transport strike by Argentine unions demanding a lighter tax load halted train and bus services in Buenos Aires while grounding domestic and international flights.
The streets of the capital looked like a Sunday with no big trucks and limited taxi services, while several entry points into the city were blocked by workers. The city’s six metro lines were all without service, and gas stations were closed.
Labor union demands for a higher threshold for income tax amid annual inflation of about 30 percent were rejected Monday by Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, who said the strike is politically motivated to damage the government and that only 10 percent to 15 percent of transport workers pay income tax. The strike is at least the fourth in the past three years against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government. Fernandez’s second term ends in December.
“Adherence to the strike is absolute,” Roberto Fernandez, head of the UTA workers union, told Radio Mitre.
Union leader Luis Barrionuevo said workers may stage a 36-hour strike in April if the government continues to ignore their demands, La Nacion reported.
While some international flights landed at Ezeiza airport outside Buenos Aires, most departing flights were either canceled or delayed, according to the website of operator Aeropuertos Argentina 2000. All flights in the smaller domestic airport of Jorge Newbery were canceled.
Striking workers held small demonstrations in downtown Buenos Aires and blocked the intersections of some of the city’s main roads, holding up placards demanding a minimum wage of 12,000 pesos ($1,360) a month.
Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez told reporters that 95 percent of employees would have gone to work today if they had a means to get there.
“They’ve decided to block everyone’s free movement,” Fernandez said. “The demands aren’t justified with the transport unions. A small portion pays income tax and even then we’re talking about pennies, nothing more than pennies.”