Thousands of public sector workers in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires took strike action at the beginning of this month, with around 30,000 state employees joining a demonstration in the city.
The action was sparked by the city’s new mayor Mauricio Macri, who at the end of 2007 announced that he would not renew the contracts of 2,300 council workers and would review the contracts of a further 18,000 workers.
This represents an attack on about a quarter of the workforce.
Macri, a proponent of neoliberal policies, was elected in December after winning 60 percent of the votes.
In the absence of a coherent left alternative, Macri’s promises to fight crime and violence struck a chord with many experiencing personal and social insecurity.
It was also a vote against political in-fighting and corruption in the city’s government.
One state employee in Buenos Aires told Socialist Worker, “The strikes were solid and the demonstration was very strong.
“There were many assembly meetings in the workplaces to discuss the organisation of the strikes and assess the nature of the new government.
“We expect many conflicts with the city government this year.”
The strike action takes place in the context of a rise in industrial action across Argentina over the past three years.
Despite the strength of the action, one of the main union federations, the Trade Union of State Employees of Buenos Aires (Sutecba), called off a planned 72-hour strike after Macri’s administration called for negotiations.
The question is whether the workers’ radicalisation will translate into stronger rank and file organisation which can force the union leaders to stand up to the devastating attacks.