Photo via Diario Movil

If you are a client of a non-national bank (i.e Citibank, Santander, Banco Frances and foreign based banking institutions) and have banking to do this week — don’t. If you have crucial banking to take care of, plan ahead: take a book and top up that data plan because this week the union group representing these banks’s 73,000 workers — making up 20 percent of the country’s financial activity — announced they will enforce different “measures of force” this week. The reason? The government still hasn’t approved the collective bargaining agreement they reached with the sector’s authorities.

There will be spontaneous workers’ assemblies today, which may cause delays in the service, while tomorrow they will directly go on strike during the last three hours of their shifts. On Wednesday union representatives will have a meeting in the with government representatives in the Labor Ministry in an attempt to strike a compromise.

Should this not go down, the agreements the other two banking unions  — Adeba and Abappra —  would fall as well, causing a massive mess with the sectors’ workers. In fact, the Bankers Association could go on strike on Wednesday as well, in addition to Monday of next week, keeping in mind that Thursday and Friday are holidays.

The Banking Association union reached a deal to have banks of “foreign origins” pay their employees a year-end bonus of between AR $8,000 and AR $12,000  — depending on the bank. But more importantly, they managed to reopen wage negotiations and were given an extra four percent salary increase on top of the agreement they had already reached last April. Usually when these kind of deals are made they last until the following year.

According to La Nación, this is something the Labor Ministry is not willing to accept. If a union manages to be granted an increased this far into the year, it would set a precedent for others to make claims of the kind. Considering that most other sectors of the economy are in no condition to front those costs at the moment, it would also mean opening the doors for a new wave of strikes.

We’re not done yet. These banks also agreed to pay their employees AR $7,000 in January and monthly AR $2,000 bonuses until April. The difference between these payments is that the first one will be included in the workers’ gross salary, meaning the payments to social contributions like as pensions and social security are included, while the second one will be paid in full, no deductions.

Moreover, the deal reached last year establishes that 2017’s yearly increase will not be any lower than 22 percent, a number that’s higher than the inflation the government’s official budget projected for coming year  — between 15 and 17 percent. This last part was approved by the Labor Ministry, although it intends for unions to negotiate their salaries in accordance to these numbers. We’ll have to see how Wednesday’s meeting goes.