Argentina: why we stand in solidarity with the trade unions in their fight for democracy

photo: AFP Emiliano LASALVIA

This 9 May, the major trade union confederations of Argentina will call a general strike to oppose the extreme economic policies of the Javier Milei government.

What has been the impact of this “shock therapy” on working people and on democracy in Argentina, and why is the global trade union movement backing the CGT, the CTA-T and the CTA-A as they campaign against it?

  • Inflation has hit over 70 per cent since the new government took office, making daily life for many working people unaffordable.
  • This was caused by the government devaluing the Argentine peso by 120% soon after taking office, and lifting price controls on daily essential goods and services, such as food, public utilities, transportation and healthcare. The basic pension was also cut.
  • Since November 2023, the minimum wage lost a third of its purchasing power. It can now only pay for a little over half of the basket of food that defines extreme poverty.
  • Basic pensions do not even cover the cost of medicines.
  • The poverty rate has risen fast, from 44.9% at the end of 2023 to 51.8% in the first quarter of 2024, according to the latest estimates. About 27 million people are poor of which 7 million are mired in destitution, the worst figures in more than two decades according to a study from the Universidad Catolica, Argentina.
  • Seven out of ten, or about 8.6 million, children live in poverty, according to a study published by Unicef.
  • While the incomes of working people and pensioners have been slashed, the wealthiest top 1% are receiving generous tax benefits.
  • The economy is expected to contract greatly, with a drop of 2.8% in GDP this year.
  • Savage budget cuts and the firing of public sector workers threaten the future of schools, universities and public services, with many on the verge of collapse.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “Milei’s policies have not tackled the decadence of the elites that he decries, instead he has delivered daily misery for millions of working people. Plummeting living standards, contracting production and the collapse of purchasing power means some people cannot even afford to eat.

“The government is targeting the rights of the most vulnerable sectors of the population and key trade union rights, such as collective bargaining, that support greater fairness and equality in society, while threatening those who protest with police repression and criminalisation.

“In this context, the work of the trade unions in Argentina is extraordinary. They have emerged as the main opposition to the government’s dystopian agenda, uniting resistance and building a coalition in defence of workers’ rights and broader democratic principles.

“The demands of the trade unions in Argentina for social justice, democracy and equality are the demands of working people across the world. Their fight is our fight and that is why the global trade union movement stands with them.”