BUENOS AIRES – Normal activity in Argentina ground to a halt on Tuesday amid a general strike organized by elements of organized labor opposed to the government of President Cristina Fernandez.
“The stoppage is complete,” Roberto Fernandez, head of the UTA transit worker union, told Radio Continental.
Public transportation was shut down and dozens of flights were canceled. Mail delivery, banks and gas stations were also affected.
Union workers and members of sympathetic leftist groups blocked main highways connecting Buenos Aires with its suburbs.
First proposed by transit unions, the general strike won the endorsement of the anti-Fernandez wings of Argentina’s two major labor confederations, CGT and CTA.
The strike organizers oppose the Fernandez administration’s attempts to limit pay increases to curb inflation and they are demanding a raising of the threshold for income tax.
The government said the strike is politically motivated, with Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez (no relation to the president) accusing the organizers of seeking only to create “anxiety” and confusion in a presidential election year.
“At some point, when they (union leaders) push too much they will have problems with their own unions because the average man and woman, who wants to go to work, doesn’t like union leaders, who have their livelihood secured, telling them what they have or don’t have to do,” the Cabinet chief said. “They are not solving the workers’ daily problems.”
President Fernandez will leave office later this year after two terms. The election to choose her successor is set for October.