As Bloomberg Business Week reports, a nationwide strike paralyzed Argentina’s economy last Thursday, shutting down air, train and bus traffic and closing businesses and ports.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is facing rising social discontent after devaluing the peso to encourage grain exports and cutting government subsidies as she attempts to shore up international reserves that have fallen to a near seven-year low.
Labor leaders want higher pay, lower taxes and millions of dollars they say are owed to union-run health care providers. The government disputes this debt to the funds, which the unions lost total control of after being accused of misusing the money.
The 24-hour strike was called by the opposition branch of the nation’s largest union conglomeration, which claimed that more than a million workers stayed home. If the government doesn’t answer their demands for higher pay and lower taxes, the main union threatens to continue strikes and for longer in future. Argentines are struggling with 30 percent inflation and analysts say the economy has almost stopped growing for lack of confidence in the country’s future.
RCL Agency will continue to monitor events and the effect of the strike on the country’s ports on behalf of shipowners and operators, and will post further news updates.