Argentinian workers plan mass protests against Milei’s ‘shock therapy’

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The country’s labor unions are unhappy with the new president’s austerity measures

Argentina’s labor unions have called for a mass strike on Wednesday to protest the economic reforms introduced by President Javier Milei. 

Labor unions representing workers in various industries, including transportation, construction, and the public sector, are set to march in Buenos Aires.

“There will be at least 200,000 marching [in Buenos Aires] and I believe the strike will be total,” Gerardo Martinez, leader of Argentina’s Construction Workers Union, told the Financial Times ahead of the protest. He believes that the government is “breaking the social contract” with its new reforms and that the strike might convince lawmakers to block the measures and start negotiating alternative ways to support the economy.

“We did not choose this path, but unfortunately they gave us no alternative… We are aware that inflation [needs to come down.] We are embarrassed to have a country with this level of poverty. But we can’t accept that the cost of reaching economic stability falls solely on the backs of workers and the middle class,” he stated.

Shortly after Milei took office in December, his government unveiled a series of some 300 “shock therapy” measures aiming at overhauling the country’s economy and reining in public spending. The reforms slashed worker protections, deregulated industries and cut energy and transportation subsidies, among other things. The austerity program is aimed at lifting the country out of a severe economic crisis during which annual inflation has surpassed 200% and more than 40% of Argentinians are now living in poverty.

Despite the harsh criticism and protests, Milei has so far stood by his new policies, warning that it will take time for results to be seen. He criticized the organizers of the strike earlier this week, accusing them of trying to keep the country “in backwardness, in the past and in decadence,” while he wants to adopt a model that will place Argentina on “the path to being developed,” as cited by state news agency Telam.

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