Argentina: Macri's austerity costs 179,000 jobs

July 24, 2016

General strike to protest mass layoffs under President Mauricio Macri. Buenos Aires, February 24. Photo: EFE.

Mass layoffs in Argentina since right-wing President Mauricio Macri took office last December eclipsed 179,000 in the public and private sector by the end of June, according to the latest data from Argentina's Center for Political Economy known as CEPA, TeleSUR English said on July 18.

Since Macri's inauguration on December 10, a total of 179,285 workers have lost their jobs, according to CEPA statistics. Nearly 40% of the job losses, or 66,404, were in the public sector, while 112,881 workers were sacked in the private sector.

During the month of June alone there were nearly 12,000 total layoffs — 2448 in the public sector and 9273 in the private sector — representing a 7% rise compared with a year ago in May.

Unsurprisingly, joblessness has emerged as the number one worry among Argentines in recent polls, surpassing public concerns about corruption and inflation. Poll results from the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12 in May found that half of Argentina's population feels that they or a member of their family may be at risk of losing their job.

Compounding the job losses is the wider austerity campaign that has seen the price of utilities skyrocket by nearly 700%, while inflation has soared to record levels in recent months.

Truck drivers strike, face repression

More than 180,000 grain truck drivers in Argentina were on indefinite strike to demand a raise in transport rates in a country that is one of the world's leading suppliers of food, TeleSUR English said on July 21.

But the drivers faced heavy-handedness and repression in some parts of the country.

The Argentine Freight Federation (FETRA) and the Argentine Confederation of Automotive Cargo Transport (CATAC) launched the protest on July 18 after talks with agro-exporters on tariff prices, which affects the movement of grains to ports, failed.

Strikers in two Rosario ports faced heavy police repression on July 21, but resisted a second round of water cannon attacks. “We were there and a hundred cops and federal gendarmerie arrived, with arms, as if we were criminals,” CATAC president Ramon Jatip told TeleSUR.

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