Organized labor appear to be gearing up for the latest in a series of massive protests against the Let’s Change (Cambiemos) government’s political and economic program this morning after Secretary General Juan Carlos Schmid of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and Argentine Transport Workers’ Confederation (CATT) confirmed a mass demonstration for later this month or early in August.
Speaking to local news outlet Infobae, Schmid, who co-chairs the CGT and also leads the powerful CATT, confirmed that the large protest action was imminent and would involve the mass ranks of the CGT, Argentina’s largest umbrella union by membership.
“We are going to march to demonstrate our rejection of the economic and political offensive against the trade unions. We will not give any more ground,” he told Infobae’s Diego Schurman Thursday.
The assertion followed a meeting by Schmid and the CATT on Wednesday which alluded to the probable mass demontration involving transport workers in the coming weeks.
Schmid told the news site that CGT’s influential former Secretary General and Teamsters’ leader Hugo Moyano had indicated his support for the demostration, adding significant momentum to the plans.
“To deepen the conflict with the government, Schmid also got a nod of approval from Hugo Moyano,” Infobae reported.
While a list of concrete demands to accompany the protest had not been tabled by union representatives at the time of publication, a series of greivances long stated by workers and their cooperatives was again reiterated by Scmid and other union leaders in recent days.
Persistently high poverty rates—which President Mauricio Macri had vowed to eliminate while campaigning for the presidency—have been repeatedly cited by unions as forcing them into direct actions.
In March, the Argentine Catholic University (UCA) published a report which said around 1.5 million Argentines had fallen into poverty since Macri took office in December 2015, suggesting that one in three Argentines now lives below the poverty line.
Further, a perception of “political interference” in union affairs following the official removal of Newspaper Vendor’s Union (SIVENDIA) Secretary-General Omar Plaini by court order earlier this month remains a key point of contention between the government and organized workers.
“They are coming for everything,” Schmid said in reference to Plaini’s formal removal from office and what union leaders have called the government’s “anti-union” approach.
Plaini was ordered to be removed from his position by Judge Marcelo Martínez De Giorgi earlier this month after he ruled that the CGT leader had used false documents during a public campaign in 2013.
The court order was condemned by union leaders and the opposition Peronist Justicialist Party (PJ).
Plaini initially refused to comply with the order, remaining in his office and convening an assembly of union members inside the union headquarters, where he called on the CGT to launch a general strike to protest the decision and the wider economic and political programs of Macri’s government.
Elements of the CGT joined with the Confederation of Argentine Workers (CTA), the second-largest umbrella union in the country, to help stage the first general strike to hit Macri’s presidency on April 6, which witnessed a massive walkout involving millions of Argentine workers and clashes between picketing workers and police, making global headlines.
Schmid did not comment on the likelihood of another general strike and instead painted a broader picture of grievances aired by the unions at present, suggesting that they were not necessarily specific to Argentina but part of a wider international framework that was witnessing a reduction in workers’ welfare and rights.
“It is part of a global politics which [is causing] salaries to deteriorate, which seeks to undermine collective agreements, which increases poverty and job losses, as we are seeing day by day. Against that we have to say ‘enough,'” the CGT leader said.