The Argentine political year — which starts in March once everyone has come back from vacation — has official begun. This week the City of Buenos Aires, as well as other major cities in the country, will see numerous sectors of society marching, striking, and in some case doing both to voice their criticism against the way the government is running things.
Public school teachers in most provinces, CGT umbrella union members — along with all other unions and sectors that will join their march, workers of about 600 national hospitals and Buenos Aires State province state workers. All of them will be taking the countries’ streets in the next three days, in addition addition to the women’s strike that will take place on Wednesday.
Here’s a breakdown of who will be protesting, why and when, so you can plan your life accordingly.
Public School Teachers
Why: today marked the first of the two-day nationwide strike of public school teachers, who are protesting against what they consider to be an insufficiently low salary increase offer from provincial administrations. The teachers union is also upset that the national government is refusing to hold negotiations at a federal level, leaving negotiations up to each province individually.
Only the teachers from Tucumán, San Luis and Salta provinces reached an agreement with their respective administrations, but will still join the strike called by the national unions, meaning that classes haven’t started there anyway. Despite the strike, President Mauricio Macri opened off the school year in a ceremony in Jujuy Province where he referenced the strike saying he “deeply regrets they [teachers] chose opportunism again.”
“We’ve already tried [using] strikes for decades, and what was the result? Nothing was accomplished. That path didn’t work. Let’s go down the path of sitting down at a table and [having a] dialogue,” Macri said while speaking at a school located in the Volcán district. Delivering the speech from that particular location had a level of added political relevance in light of being the site of devastating mudslides in January that buried much of the town.
Where: in all the country’s public schools, bar a few exceptions.
When: there will be a nationwide strike today and tomorrow, while unions from other provinces with more severe disputes will protest for longer. Today teachers are marching to the Education Ministry. Tomorrow they will join the march called on by the CGT umbrella union, which leads us to our next point.
CGT Umbrella Union and Adherents
Why: The CGT has called on organizing a march for Tuesday, March 7 to protest the economic policies implemented by the Macri administration, which they consider to be harmful for workers. These groups are also protesting in response to layoffs in the public and private sectors, increases in monthly utility bills, and “in defense of labor and national industry,” as well as to demand “wage negotiations without caps.” The CGT leadership appears to be planning to capitalize on the march’s scale and is expected to announce the first national strike against the Macri administration.
Multiple political and social groups made their intention to join the march public. The two CTA unions, ATE state workers unions, the chamber of small and medium-sized businesses, the UTA transportation union and community organizations “Barrios de Pie,” “Corriente Clasista y Combativa” and CTEP are all on the roster for participating.
Never ones to let a good political opportunity pass them by, several politicians have also shown their support for the march and the demands, and appear to be trying to have their face tied to this kind of display of political muscle flexing. Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, The Renewal Front (FR) led by Sergio Massa, the Justicialist Party (PJ) headed by Diego Bossio, several district mayors who answer to the Victory Front (FpV) and the Socialist Party among the leaders following this trend.
However, when consulted on this, member of the CGT umbrella union, Héctor Daer, said that he doesn’t want anyone to take advantage of the march. “We don’t want the march to be partisan under any circumstance. No one is going to take advantage of it. We can’t distort what’s going on, the claims and demands,” he said.
When: Tuesday, March 7.
Where: Protesters will march onto the intersection of Diagonal Sur and Belgrano, in Microcentro, where union leaders will deliver several speeches. The march is expected to end with the announcement of a national strike.
Why: Jorge Yabkowski, leader of the federation that groups the country’s health professionals, Fesprosa, announced a 48-hour strike to demand a salary increase that “surpasses the 18 percent ceiling the national government wants to impose for this year.”
Where: in the country’s roughly 600 public hospitals.
When: today and tomorrow.
Buenos Aires Province State Workers
Why: they will also strike for two days: “The measure will be determinant to try stop the austerity measures that are taking place in the territory,” Buenos Aires Province State Workers’ union leader, Oscar de Isasi, told press.
Where: Public services in the Buenos Aires province.
When: today and tomorrow.
Why: As The Bubble’s Elke Wakefield explained in last week’s piece, on Wednesday March 8, the International Women’s Strike will take place in over forty countries across the globe. Described as an “international day of action,” and something between a digital and grassroots social phenomenon, it invites all women to strike, march, picket, organize and agitate for governments across the world to take a greater role in ensuring safety, freedom and equality for women.
The longstanding demand for the decriminalization of abortion and an end to femicides are expected to form the central pillars of the Argentine platform.
Where in Argentina: there are strikes planned in various locations throughout Buenos Aires Province, as well as Entre Rios and Santa Fe. Expect picketing, protests, marches, and people wearing black. In Buenos Aires, the strike will kick off at 12 PM with a ruidazo (banging of pots and pans) and at 5 PM, protesters will march from the Obelisco to the Plaza de Mayo, according to Ni Una Menos.
When: Wednesday, March 8.