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Argentinian hawkish unions reject on November 7 government proposal to increase Christmas bonus

Reports indicate that on November 7 hawkish unions opposed to the government have rejected a government proposal to increase the Christmas bonus afforded to workers as part of their December salaries. Pablo Moyano, a chief figure in the Union of Freight Truck Drivers (SICHOCA), reportedly stated that the Confederation of Argentinian Workers (CTA) and the newly established Union Front (“Frente Sindical”) will organize industrial actions over the coming weeks. The government is currently negotiating with unions and large private groups to secure a Christmas bonus of 5,000 ARG (roughly 140 USD) for employees in the private sector, whose salaries were not raised sufficiently enough to compensate for inflation. The bonus is to be paid in two installments. Sources within various unions opposing President Mauricio Macri published statements casting doubt on the government’s ability to make good on its commitments. In turn, on November 8 the General Confederation of Labor (CGT, the largest union in the country), announced that whilst it would accept the government’s offer, the Christmas bonus only “postpones” a nationwide strike. That said, the CGT ruled out the possibility of large-scale demonstrations in central Buenos Aires during the G20 Summit, slated to take place on November 30-December 1.

Although the government has seemingly reached a preliminary agreement with unions concerning the Christmas bonus, this compromise is unlikely to deter social and opposition groups from organizing protests and strikes in Buenos Aires over the coming weeks. Although the CGT committed not to strike ahead of the G20 Summit, a scenario which would entail significant travel disruptions on a nationwide level, smaller unions, and factions within the CGT loyal to Moyano could still attempt to carry industrial actions during the same period. Precedent suggests the government is unlikely to appease hawkish elements answering to Moyano. Suspected of corruption, Moyano faces judicial inquiries that could potentially undermine his power base. In this respect, notwithstanding the Christmas bonus compromise, he is likely to organize anti-government demonstrations in order to convey strength vis-a-vis authorities.

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