Union Leader Sergio Palazzo Photo via Notas

Banking union La Asociación Bancaria, led by Sergio Palazzo, has called off its 72 hour strike, scheduled to start today. The strike – originally a 24 hour protest which was then extended to last until Tuesday – was decided after the Department of Labor stepped in allowing banks to go back on the increase in employee salaries (23.5 percent) they signed in late 2016. This decision came down to the fact the scheduled pay rise is higher than the official rate of inflation that the Government projected for 2017 – between 12 and 17 percent.

The salary increase was signed off on in November, leading to negotiations and strikes in December, and just last week bank services were partially disrupted as employees abandoned branches to attend the union’s “informative assemblies,” in order to lay down details for the strikes. But the union and the government managed to come to an agreement yesterday. Interestingly, despite the nine hours of negotiations, the figure was almost identical to the percentage suggested during December’s talks.

Workers will, after all, be granted a salary increase of 23.5 percent, which the Government justifies using a new estimate that inflation will come in at 19.5 percent this year. According to the Government, the remaining 4 percent difference, taking them up to the 23.5 percent figure, is justified as being compensation for last year, when inflation exceeded salary increases. Unions claimed that certain extras should also be accounted for, such as a bonus of 21,600 to 39,000 pesos for National Bankers’ Day.

GANÓ LA BANCARIA!

Sergio Palazzo took to Twitter to celebrate the agreement being reached, using the hashtag “THE BANK WON!” and exclaiming “houses have ceilings, we workers have negotiations”.

He can be seen announcing details of the agreement here:

Despite this success, the CGT umbrella union will still include “free negotiations” as a core point of contention in their general street protest on March 7, sensing the government’s desire to place limits on their right to negotiate salary increases. And the drama is far from over, as trigger clauses in the agreement states that the discussions could reopen in June and October if inflation exceeds 19.5 percent.