Photo via Para Buenos Aires

The transportation union’s (UTA) strike turned the City into absolute chaos today. Most commuters couldn’t even get close to the city without functioning trains and those who resorted to buses — which began their service at 7 AM — found themselves waiting in lines that were multiple blocks long in some cases. An extra two hours getting slapped onto an already long commute on top of developing a closer relationship than you’d want to with a stranger’s armpit is definitely not the best way to start your day.

But guess what: it could get worse, because the union warned that unless the government complies with their demands regarding the endless negotiations on the income tax bill they could take similar action during the weeks to come. What’s on the negotiating table? Unions are asking for money that is earned from working overtime and double time pay for hours worked on the weekends and holidays to be excluded from taxable income in the eyes of the Government.

However, in an interview with Crónica, UTA spokesperson, Mario Calegari, said it’s not clear what step the union take next because it doesn’t know how the negotiation will end. “We will continue holding assemblies and intensifying the measures until it’s changed,” said Calegari who, to illustrate his claims, said that “drivers don’t want to work holidays because the double payment they get ends up going to the state because of the tax.”

From the other side of the negotiation, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio came out to criticize the union leaders for having made this decision precisely because all parties are currently trying to reach a solution.

“It’s hard to explain. We are in the middle of a negotiation to correct something that has been distorted for more than a decade. And we are close to do it. In this context, the strike is hard to explain,” he said in an interview.

Frigerio went on to say that a strike “is a last resource when the negotiation has been exhausted.” Government and opposition are currently in the middle of a frenzy negotiation to pass a consensual reform to the country’s income tax, after the opposition  dealt a political blow to the Macri administration by passing its own project, very different from the one Macri’s team had in mind earlier this month.

In fact, key members of the government met yesterday with counterparts from the Renewal front led by Sergio Massa to continue working towards consensus and, according to Infobae, the union’s claim would be met. Those present in the sushi dinner also discussed the possibility of holding the decisive session on December 27, despite the ultimatum given by the leader of the FpV-PJ caucus in the Senate, Miguel Pichetto, to discuss it on Wednesday 21.

Photo via Infobae
Photo via Infobae

PJ leaders Diego Bossio and Juan Manuel Abal Medina were also present via text messages. Taxing mining activity, future dollar contracts, rent and tax deductions for single parents were subjects they couldn’t agree on yet.

Reforming the income tax has gone from dominating the news cycling to affecting millions of people’s commutes. It looks like we are all in for a bumpy ride.