Reports indicate that the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the largest union in the country, decided on October 18 to carry out a 36-hour national strike in an unspecified date in November. If carried out, the upcoming industrial action would represent the fifth measure of its kind adopted by the CGT during President Mauricio Macri’s administration, citing labor-disputes and related grievances against the government. Following recent protests, the union is demanding wage increases, the freezing of surging energy prices, and guarantees against the layoffs of employees in both the public and private sectors. On October 12 a prosecutor investigating a corruption case asked judicial authorities for the detention of Pablo Moyano, a chief secretary in the Union of Freight Truck Drivers (SICHOCA), and son of Hugo Moyano, former head of the CGT (2004-2016). Both men are suspected of embezzlement and unlawful enrichment. Sources in the CGT reportedly stated that these charges were pressed by the government to silence dissent and undermine workers’ rights. While the arrest warrant against Moyano was put on hold on October 16 by a judge, reports indicate prosecutors will seek to reinstate it.
Although industrial actions stemming from left-leaning unions supporting the opposition have become a recurrent theme during the incumbent presidency of Mauricio Macri, the upcoming strike called by the CGT was likely triggered by the arrest warrant against Moyano. The family holds a great amount of influence and political power within the different unions under the CGT umbrella. In the Argentinian political culture it has become commonplace for union leaders to organize large demonstrations to thwart governmental initiatives that could potentially undermine their power bases, either by reducing the union’s sources of income, or by enacting market-oriented policies. In this regard, even though social grievances owing to economic hardships are seemingly contributing to an uptick in industrial actions, the upcoming 36-hour strike is not necessarily a consequence of such scenario, but part of a perceived power struggle vis-a-vis authorities.