Large sectors of Argentina's labour force are in a state of near revolt over recent massive price increases.
Large sectors of Argentina's labour force are in a state of near revolt over recent massive price increases. The unprecedented price explosion, aggravated by deadlock in nationwide wage negotiation, has set off a series of strikes and stoppages.
The recent 50 per cent devaluation of the Argentine peso--the biggest devaluation in the country's history--was followed by an immediate scramble to increase prices. Fuel prices were trebled, gas and electricity rates more than doubled. Fares have rocketed -- taxi fares by 140 per cent.
The increases had a dual affect on the work force, not only prompting strikes but stalling wage talks between unions and employers, who were expected to agree to average 40 per cent rises at the beginning of June.
In an effort to allay the general sense of desperation and fury at the inflationary spiral, President Maria Estela Peron has decreed 65 per cent minimum wage increases.
But the tension has mounted, and violence has broken out with renewed fury. Eleven people have died in Argentina during the past week, including four policemen and a union official.
The economic uncertainty has also produced some bizarre results. The day after the devaluation, taxi drivers demanded and got 140 per cent fare increases. Now they're protesting to be allowed to reduce tariffs because of a devastating drop in custom.
SYNOPSIS: A convoy of taxis in Buenos Aires joins the huge wave of strikes and protests over inflation sweeping Argentina at the moment. Large sections of the country's labour force are now reported in near revolt.
The police have been bearing the brunt of the unrest. On this occasion, it was just a case of keeping the taxi drivers away from government buildings. But the strikes have also been accompanied by violence. Eleven people died during the past week -- including four policemen and one union official. The unrest was caused by the recent fifty per cent devaluation of the peso -- the biggest in the country's history.
Devaluation has affected the prices of everything -- from soft drinks to fuel charges, which have trebled. And because of the price increases, national wage talks between unions national wage talks between unions and employers have broken down. Both sides had been expected to agree to a forty per cent wage increase at the beginning of June. But now even President Maria Estela peron has decreed that minimum wage increases should be sixty-five per cent.
The Strikes have been hitting all sectors--shops businesses and industry. Devaluation was aimed at increasing exports. It also produced a rush of buyers to those shops still selling existing stock at old prices.