Photo via http://www.politicargentina.com

Negotiation tactics are escalating, as the banking union has lengthened its Friday strike to 72 hours, adding Monday and Tuesday to the list. Friday’s strike is still in response to the Department of Labor’s decision to appeal a court ruling from last Wednesday, which negated a salary increase agreement between banking authorities and bank unions. The strikes this Monday and Tuesday are an entirely new beast, in direct response to the Association of Banks in Argentina’s (ABA’s) rejection of the salary agreement with the local banking union.

ABA is a group of international businesses, which represents the financial interest for banks like Citi and Chase. They are part of a four-way deal between the banking groups in Argentina (ABA, ADEBA, ABAPPRA and ABE) and the banking union (AB), which represents bank employees. All three national banking groups agreed to a deal with the banking union, but ABA backed out, negating yet another salary negotiation. ABA’s refusal was over the same agreement the government’s Labor Department is appealing.

So now the union has two open fronts in its fight for the salary increase they want: the Government and the ABA.

“There’s a signed agreement that needs to be honored. I don’t even know what they want. If they want to prevent the strike from happening, we are here to talk,” said union leader Eduardo Berrozpe in an interview with TN.

The origin of the conflict began last November, when banks signed off to increase employee salaries by 23.5 percent, a number that exceeds the Government’s estimate for inflation this year. Due to this perceived overestimation, the government’s Department of Labor decided to interrupt salary increases. In response, the banking union (AB) took their case to court, which ruled in their favor.

Last Wednesday the Department of Labor appealed the ruling, keeping banks from making good on the court ruling. In response, banking unions (AB) held “informative assemblies” last Thursday and Friday, which limited banking service but did not shut it down entirely.

Last night, bank union (AB) leader Sergio Palazzo announced the lengthened strike on Twitter, making note of the ABA’s interference in negotiations:

If strike tactics continue to escalate, banking will become quite a challenge throughout the country. While there are no meetings scheduled, hopefully a mutual agreement on salary will be reached soon.