Unions are not happy with the Government, and have already begun to issue warnings that they will not hesitate to show this disappointment with more than words. Yesterday, the main teachers’ unions threatened to prevent the school year from beginning if they are not granted a higher salary increase than the national and provincial administrations intend to give them. And now today, leaders of the CGT union — the largest umbrella union in the country — announced that they will “suspend the dialogue” with the Macri administration and carry on with a measure to make their discontent known.
Speaking to press, CGT member, Juan Carlos Schmid, said their “trust was broken” by the fact that — according to them — business leaders broke an agreement they had reached with Government mediation to prevent any layoffs until March this year.
“Business people didn’t keep their end of the deal and the National Government’s apathy to intervene in this wave of layoffs, suspensions and loss of salaries’ purchasing power that is hitting in several places,” Schmid said.
Moreover, union leaders and government representatives also failed to reach an agreement regarding this matter on Tuesday. In that same meeting, they also as well as clashed over the Government’s plan to change labor agreements — something that has already happened with the oil workers unions.
As a result of this, CGT’s main leaders will meet today at 2 PM in union headquarters to discuss what measure to take against these provisions. Schmid said they will “surely announce some reaction that will take place between today and March.”
The union has two bullets of different calibers in its chamber: call a march or mobilize a national strike. The first has already happened under the Macri administration, and while marches do wreak havoc in the City and send a clear message to the Government by taking out hundreds of thousands of people from their jobs to protest their policies, the national strike takes things to another level: when the transportation union (UTA) gets involved, it really brings the country to a halt by preventing workers from getting to work via public transport.
A national strike is widely regarded as the most powerful measure unions have and it would mark a breaking point in the relatively smooth relationship the CGT has had with the Macri administration. Despite the tough year practically all workers went through as a result of the continued economic recession, the CGT leadership never called a national strike. It did stage a number of marches and was quite vocal about their discontent, but as far as union-government relations are concerned, this can be considered almost cordial.
It seems like this is changing, and as long as the Government is unable to channel its positive economic forecasts into concrete results for workers, the relationship has nowhere to go but downhill.