New general strike in Argentina

Workers attempt to block a bridge. (Pic: Gustavo Garello/Associated Press)

by Phil Duncan

Workers in Argentina have just staged another general strike.  It took place on Wednesday (May 29) and saw public transport and airports paralysed, along with banks, hospitals and many shops.  Key ports, along with schools and universities were shut down by the strike.  About 80 unions took part.

This is the fifth general strike in Argentina since November 2015 when Mauricio Macri was elected as president in the second round with 51.34% of the vote compared to 48.66 for his Peronista opponent.

Following mass protests and some strikes in April, it also seems to be the largest of these five general strikes.

The protests and strikes have been fuelled by anger at inflation.  For instance, in the past year prices have increased by 55 percent, meaning a substantial erosion of real wages – what workers can buy with their pay.

Poverty has increased due to not only the ravages of inflation but also increases in fees for public services, the result of a deal with the International Monetary Fund.  The IMF advanced $(US)56 billion, but the government had to agree to cut some services to poorer sections of the population and raise fees on other services.

Unemployment has been rising in recent years and is now about 10 percent, but the poverty rate is over 30 percent, indicating that there is a sizable number of working poor.  In the past year, output has also been falling – by about 2.5 percent.

Workers in New Zealand have much to learn from the workplace occupations, mass demonstrations and blockades and the development and growth of anti-capitalist political forces in Argentina.