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Argentina’s Largest Trade Union Announces General Strike

Above photo: A march in the Argentinian city of La Rioja in protest against President Milei’s neoliberal reforms. CTA Autónoma.

Against President’s Neoliberal Policies.

The General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Argentina’s largest labor union, has called for a general strike and a march to the Congress on January 24, 2024 to protest against President Javier Milei’s Decree of Necessity and Urgency and the “Omnibus Bill” that grants absolute powers to the far-right president to govern for two years bypassing the Congress.

On Thursday, December 28, the CGT, which is the common platform for the largest labor unions of Argentina, announced the general strike against Milei’s neoliberal policies which “intend to drown the country in economic and political instability.”

The general strike will take place one day before the date on which the Milei administration intends to have the Congress vote in favor of his neoliberal reform package, which is aimed at deregulating and liberalizing the Argentinian economy and reduce the powers of the Argentinian State. However, parliamentary approval could be only a formality, since Milei’s anti-worker reforms came into force de facto from December 29.

On December 27, Milei also sent to Congress another bill, called the “Omnibus Bill,” to declare “public emergency” until the end of 2025, with provisions to extend it until 2027.

If this bill is approved, the far-right president could govern throughout his four-year term by attributing to himself broad legislative powers in matters related to economy, finance, taxes, social security, defense, goods and services tariffs, energy, and public administration.

The bill also includes electoral regulation reform, changes in the Penal Code to control street protests, sweeping felixibilization of labor laws, the privatization of 41 large state-owned companies, and authorizations to incur more public debt.

“If a president is allowed to assume all public power for a period of two years, which may be extendable for two more years, we will live in a country where the president will have all the power, and the State institutions will not be respected,” CGT Secretary Héctor Daer said, warning that Milei’s intentions are against collective and individual rights.

“The mobilization is a clear fight against the reinstatement of the conservative neoliberal model in its cruelest version,” said Luis D’Elia, the leader of the Federation of Land, Housing, and Habitat (FTV), one of the organizations that blocked roads on the outskirts of Buenos Aires as a protest measure on Thursday, December 28.

Several other labor unions and social movements announced that they will join the January 24 strike.

Eduardo Belliboni, a leader of the labor organization Polo Obrero (PO), announced that “all the leftist organizations will put every effort so that the strike and mobilization on January 24 would be a great success. The Frente de Lucha, the Polo Obrero, and the organizations of the Unidad Piquetera will join with all our strength to the strike and the CGT’s plan of struggle. We are going to mobilize against Milei’s ferocious economic adjustment, we say enough of repression. The DNU and the Omnibus Law, which mean more surrender for the country and hunger for the Argentinian people, must be overthrown.”

The well-known social organization Evita Movement also announced joining the general strike. “The opposition to Milei’s measures will be proportional to their consequences,” Gildo Onorato, a leader of the movement, expressed. “He devaluated [the currency, peso] by 120% in one day, he broke the domestic market, he is destroying small and medium enterprises, he is discouraging production and development, and thousands of jobs are lost throughout the country.”

After assuming the presidency on December 10, Milei launched a “shock therapy” plan to supposedly bring balance the Argentinian economy.

His new policies are also directed against public education and culture. He intends to end obligatory school education, repeal the Book Law, and close the National Fund for the Arts (FNA), the National Theater Institute (INT), the National Music Institute (INAMU), and the National Commission of Popular Libraries (CONABIP).

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