BUENOS AIRES – Members of Argentina’s powerful truck drivers’ federation went on strike Thursday to press demands for income tax relief and a large salary hike, which they say are necessary to compensate for high inflation, labor officials said.
The strike, which began early Thursday, has halted the transportation of goods nationwide and affected services such as garbage collection and deliveries of products to supermarkets, cash to ATM machines and fuel to gas stations, local media reported.
At midday, the National Truck Drivers’ and Transport Workers’ Federation plans to hold an event led by its leader, government opponent Hugo Moyano, to present their demands, including a 35 percent salary hike and the elimination of an income tax affecting some workers.
Thursday’s job action is a prelude to a planned June 9 general strike, which was organized after the government, citing inflation concerns, said it will not agree to salary hikes exceeding 27 percent.
Consumer prices rose 4.6 percent in the first four months of 2015, according to official figures, although private economists say the real price hike was 7.69 percent.
In 2014, the government said the consumer price index finished up 23.9 percent, although the opposition, citing private economists, said it rose 38.5 percent.
In recent weeks, unions allied with President Cristina Fernandez’s administration wrapped up collective bargaining negotiations after agreeing to salary increases of around 27 percent annually.
But opposition-allied unions are demanding pay hikes of between 30 percent and 40 percent, as well as tax reductions, saying they are needed to offset the loss of purchasing power stemming from high inflation.