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Largest trade union in Argentina holds general strike over IMF-imposed austerity measures

ARGENTINA’S largest trade union body, the General Confederation of Workers (CGT), held a 24-hour general strike yesterday against austerity policies imposed at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The previous day, the Argentinian Workers Centre (CTA) launched a parallel 36-hour strike, backed by several smaller unions, neighbourhood associations and social movements, over the social and economic policies of President Mauricio Macri’s government.

The unions vowed to continue protests until there is a change in policy or government.

Mr Macri’s authority was further weakened yesterday when central bank president Luis Caputo resigned during the general strike.

The president, who has already announced his intention to seek re-election next year, has faced massive protests and four national strikes over his capitalist austerity agenda.

His government is in hock to the IMF, which handed over a $50 billion (£40bn) emergency loan in June, conditional on rigid austerity measures.

“Either this economic model falls or these people leave the government,” said Pablo Micheli of the CTA.

The strike calls were successful, with streets empty, railway and bus stations closed and most flights to and from Ezeiza and Jorge Newbery airports cancelled.

State schools axed classes, public hospitals received medical emergencies only and banks were shut.

Agricultural workers also backed the general strike, with the Union of Landless Rural Workers, Via Campesina, tweeting: “The Campesinos struggle against the neoliberal austerity of the Cambiemos government. #GetOutIMF #GeneralStrike #EnoughHunger #PopularAgrarianReform #WorkersUnity.”

Cambiemos is the coalition of right-wing parties supporting the Macri presidency.

The trade unions are demanding collective agreements to compensate for loss of buying power due to increasing inflation, along with suspending redundancies and the declaration of a food emergency to counter the effects of the economic crisis.

They also want to stop the approval process for the 2019 national budget, which would deepen social austerity still further.

We need “a change of course,” argued Hector Daer of the CGT directive council, saying the president “must understand that he doesn’t only need to be accountable and bear good news for financial speculators and IMF authorities.”

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