general strikes in argentina

map of argentina

1997, august 15 - argentina's general strike fails to halt commerce; 96 arrested
strikers burned and damaged dozens of buses, but their protest over proposed labor laws failed to stop argentina's industry and commerce. police said 96 people were arrested during the 24-hour nationwide walkout, which had widespread union support including that of the powerful argentine workers central and the argentine workers movement. however, the country's largest labor federation, the general labor confederation, did not participate.

protesters said the proposed labor legislation would weaken unions' bargaining power and reduce severance payments. they also oppose privatization plans and other free-market reforms of president carlos menem. it was the eighth general strike since menem took office in 1989 and started selling off dozens of unprofitable state companies and deregulating the economy.

strike leaders claimed the walkout was an "overwhelming" success. but industrial plants, banks and stores opened for business as usual. trains and most subway lines operated with only some delays and many workers, lacking bus transport, came to work in private cars. strikers tried to block several major highways and bridges, but police quickly dispersed them. several buses whose drivers ignored the strike were stoned by strikers.

about 100 buses were set alight or had windows smashed, transport owners said. most incidents took place in the industrial belt circling the capital. "it's been one of the most violent strikes ever," said hector tilve, head of the bus owners' association. at least 15 police officers were injured in clashes, authorities said. strikers gathered to bang pots and pans and shout anti-government slogans outside the presidential residence in suburban olivos. inside, menem was conducting a cabinet meeting.

from the nando times. if you have information about this event from a non-corporate news source please e-mail me.

1997, may 29 - 50 injured in labor clashes in northern argentina

sugar workers protesting layoffs clashed with police for a second day in one of argentina's poorest provinces. more than 50 people were injured. television footage showed border police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds in jujuy province over a two day period. workers fought back by throwing rocks at the security forces. the violence erupted when police broke up roadblocks by sugar refinery workers who were protesting recent layoffs and, in some cases, unpaid wages.

local labor leaders called for a 24-hour general strike in the northern province today to protest the police action and recent austerity measures by the government. some 4,000 people have lost their jobs in recent years in jujuy from sugar industry cutbacks. the province on the border with bolivia has 40 percent unemployment.

1996, december 26 - general strike successful, but rift appears in country's largest union

unions in argentina held their third general strike in less than a year to protest government plans to impose free market regulations on the labour force. public transport in buenos aires was stopped and half of the city's industry was shut down. strikes were held in other cities as well.

the strike was called by the country's main labour federation (the cgt). a spokesperson for the cgt more strikes might be planned. however, there were signs that the cgt was experiencing splits within its membership. just recently, the head of the truck drivers' union had pulled out of the cgt's leadership which is dominated by members of the governing peronist party.

from solinet's archive of labor news

1996, august 8 - large worker turnout despite heavy state repression

at least a dozen people were injured and about 100 arrested in argentina on august 8 during a national general strike against the government's economic policy. observance of the strike ranged from 70% to 100%, and was highest in areas hardest hit by unemployment. the strike was called by the general labour confederation (cgt), which is allied with the ruling justicialist (peronist) party, together with two dissident federations, the movement of argentine workers (mta) and the argentine workers congress (cta).

according to the largest business association in the country, the strike had a 70% impact on industry. hospitals saw only emergency cases. the national commission of automotive transport said that about 70% of public transport was halted. some international flights were suspended, and many small and medium producers and business people joined the strike. large demonstrations were held in the provincial capitals córdoba, san salvador de jujuy, neuquen and trelew. in the city of rosario, workers blocked highways and set up soup kitchens; all businesses and industry were closed.

despite heavy repression and a government ban on demonstrations, the strike was also strong in buenos aires, where labour actions are usually weakest. police used tear gas and beat mta members in an attempt to prevent them from setting up soup kitchens in the plazas of the capital, where they sought to provide food for unemployed people and pensioners. the cta mobilised thousands of strikers in a protest march of nearly 50 km along the outskirts of the capital. in nearby san justo, police did not intervene when about 100 strikers and residents of marginal communities used burning tyres and wood to block the national highway.

from green left weekly.

the world : south america : argentina