The transportation unions will paralyze the country with a strike on Tuesday, March 31st. Their main grievance is the government’s failure to raise the income tax floor, which hasn’t happened since 2013 despite rampant inflation.
Roberto Fernández, the train union leader, confirmed the protest this morning on Radio Mitre: “Sadly, we haven’t found any solutions with the government, despite the fact we remain open to dialogue. (The government) doesn’t listen and it’s impossible to rule that way”.
When asked if something could prevent the strike, he addressed the income tax specifically: “It has to be changed”, he said.
“If we’re not heard, we’re forced to take this stance, because we represent the workers”, he said.
When consulted, government officials gave their perspectives on the tax motivating the strike that will turn the city into a massive clusterfuck. The thing is, they don’t seem to agree about what needs to be done about it.
In his daily press conference, Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández admitted the government should raise the income tax floor, but can’t at the moment: “No one can doubt that the cameramen, nor the President, nor the Ministers agree on not raising it…we all agree, but the reality is we have to adjust to the possibilities of the moment”, he said.
Fernández didn’t characterize the strike as a political one and recognized the unions claim as fair: “It’d be unfair for me to qualify as political the fact that a worker is calling for the raise on the income tax floor. Everything has to do with politics, but in this case what they seek is to improve the workers’ income” he explained.
Economy Minister Axel Kiciloff, however, defended the tax in an interview with Metro: “It’s a tax that needs to be defended because it’s progressive, but there are some who attack it by saying it’s a salary tax. That discussion is over, because it targets higher incomes”.
Kiciloff, who believes a sort of “fetish” has been built around the tax, also stated the claim is not universal, as a low percentage of the population actually has to pay it: “Effectively, it affects 8% of the salaried population. I imagine those who march or see a need to strike are among the 8% who make more. It’s neither good nor bad, but it doesn’t appear to be a universal claim from all the workers because it affects a small portion”.
While it’s uncertain what the government will ultimately do about this, one thing is clear: The income tax floor is not going to be raised before next week, at least as far as we know, and the strike will go forward. So try get a hold of one of the yellow bikes the City provides, or start stretching and get ready to
walk; it’s going to get messy on Tuesday.