The State Workers’ Association (ATE) has announced a general strike on 24th February to protest the government’s dismissal of state employees at the municipal, provincial, and national levels.
ATE, one of the unions that represent state workers, said in a statement that school custodians, government ministry employees, and hospital nurses and technicians will walk off the job later this month.
“The strike seeks to confront the brutal wave of layoffs which have left more than 20,000 households in the street,” said the statement.
The wave of layoffs began in December when new authorities came to power across the country. State officials have said the country is trimming “activist fat” and that the fired employees are ñoquis, or workers who show up only to collect a paycheque, but do not do any work.
However, union leaders say this is not the case and accuse the government of political persecution —firing workers for an assumed allegiance to the past government— as well as of trying to dismantle state programmes and reducing the number of state workers.
Though the strike is presently limited to ATE workers, Clarin reported the union plans to meet with other unions representing state workers and call for a unified strike. ATE is calling for reinstatements of all the laid-off workers and a raise of the minimum wage to $15,677 per month.
“We will unify the actions for the fired workers and for collective wage negotiations: we don’t want to discuss only the loss of jobs, when there has been a devaluation of 40%, inflation is still rising, and bills increasing,” said ATE Secretary General Hugo Godoy.