By Sergio García
A strike by Argentine truck drivers has caused more than $240 million in losses equivalent to 1% of the nation’s productivity, the Ministry of Finance said Thursday.
The losses are linked to a halt of activity in the transport sector that has also affected public administration, banking, education, garbage collection and the manufacture of chemical substances and products.
The 24-hour strike was led by the secretary general of the powerful Union of Truck Drivers, Hugo Moyano, who said it is not clear yet if a general strike will be called following Wednesday’s massive march in downtown Buenos Aires.
But Moyano stressed that he is willing to sit down with President Mauricio Macri to discuss the union’s demands.
“Of course, [I would sit down to talk if the government called me]. I have a responsibility and obligation to do it. I cannot refuse if this happens,” Moyano said in an interview with local broadcaster La Red radio.
One of Moyano’s main demands is better wages and working conditions in the truck driving sector.
The Justicialist Party of Buenos Aires supported the protest and issued a statement alleging that the Macri government wants workers’ organizations to sign collective labor agreements with fewer rights and to accept a nine percent wage increase offered by employers that does not match consumer price inflation.
“In this impressive call we made, we came with only one aim: to ask the government, the president, not to continue carrying out policies that starve the most sensitive part of society,” Moyano said during the demonstrations.
Moyano, who is also president of the Club Atletico Independiente soccer club, is under investigation by the Argentinian Attorney General´s Office. He is accused of illicit association, money laundering and fraud but denies any wrongdoing, claiming it is part of the government’s persecution of social and opposition leaders.
*Daniela Mendoza contributed to this report.