Argentina’s largest labour group calls strike, raising pressure on Macri

The economic policies of Mauricio Macri have come under increasing scrutiny.

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s leading labour federation announced plans on Tuesday to stage a one-day general strike on June 25 to protest against government economic policies, raising pressure on President Mauricio Macri as he moves to speed up spending cuts to balance the budget.

In a statement, the CGT umbrella group of labour organisations slammed the US$50 billion (RM200 billion) funding deal the South American country signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week, arguing it would “dramatically aggravate an already unsupportable social situation”.

Macri’s announcement last month that Argentina was turning to the IMF raised political risk for the government. Many Argentines blame IMF-imposed austerity policies for aggravating a 2001-2002 economic crisis that plunged millions into poverty.

As part of the US$50 billion funding deal, the South American country said it would target a fiscal deficit equivalent to 1.3% of gross domestic product in 2019, down from 2.2% previously. The government aims to balance the budget by 2020 and achieve a primary surplus in 2021.

The government and the IMF said social programs for the poor would be untouched under the deal, but opposition politicians and labour groups have said it would add to the pain already felt by working-class Argentines as a result of utility price hikes and rising imports that have harmed the industrial sector.

“The vulnerable sectors are more vulnerable by the day,” Héctor Daer, one of the three union leaders that make up the CGT triumvirate, told reporters.

The CGT’s strike plans are the latest sign that labour pressure is building on Macri, a market-friendly former businessman who took office in December 2015 following more than a decade of populist rule. On Monday, the powerful union announced a truckers’ strike for June 14.