BUENOS AIRES – Members of the two branches of Argentina’s CTA labor federation protested on Thursday against President Mauricio Macri’s veto of a bill aimed at imposing a de-facto six-month moratorium on layoffs.
In Buenos Aires, some 40,000 workers filled the Plaza de Mayo and surrounding streets, while similar mobilizations took place in other cities across Argentina.
Unions are unhappy not only with Macri’s veto of a measure that would require employers to pay double the usual amount of severance to any employees laid off in the next six months, but also with a succession of steep hikes in transit fares and utility rates.
“It’s an almost explosive situation. People can’t pay their electric or gas bill, they don’t have money for transportation. There are very many people walking in the city of Buenos Aires,” the leader of the CTA Autonoma, Pablo Micheli, told EFE.
Micheli and the head of the CTA Trabajadores, Hugo Yaski, held a joint press conference on Wednesday to announce the protests and describe the mobilization as yet another step toward a general strike against the conservative Macri administration.
That general strike is likely to come within the next few weeks, Micheli told EFE Thursday.
The veto of the anti-layoff legislation was the final straw for organized labor, already fuming over increases in bus fares, 100 percent; water and gas bills, 300 percent; and electric rates, which have skyrocketed by 600 percent.
Macri insists the fare and rate hikes were essential to ensure the future health of the economy.