Argentine Truckers Begin Strike as Inflation Eclipses Wage Gains

(Bloomberg) -- Argentina’s truck drivers began a one-day national strike, demanding wage increases to compensate for an unexpected surge in inflation and protesting President Mauricio Macri’s economic policies.

Workers want wage increases of 27 percent, as well as reductions in the price of fuel and other subsidized utilities. Workers began blocking streets in Buenos Aires early in the morning and union leaders will hold a press conference at 9 a.m. There will be a rally at 3 p.m.

The strike is a test for Macri as his government embarks on a series of unpopular measures amid a possible economic recession, an unexpected surge in inflation and a free-falling currency. While the truckers remain one of the nation’s most powerful labor groups, they were unable to convince the larger CGT union to join Thursday’s strike, weakening its impact.

In a move denounced by the opposition, Macri has promised to cut spending in the next two years to meet a narrower fiscal deficit as part of a record $50 billion stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund. The finance ministry plans to sell $7.5 billion from the credit line in the foreign-exchange market as soon as June 21.

A 30 percent drop in the peso this year is fueling a surge consumer prices, with economists predicting inflation of about 27.1 percent by the end of the year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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