Cristina Fernandez forced to return to address a three-day teamsters strike
As Argentine president Cristina Fernandez was landing in Buenos Aires Wednesday night cutting short her international tour, Gendarmerie forces were clashing with striking teamsters at a major fuel refinery which is vital for the supply of gas to the province of Buenos Aires.
Shortly after landing at the Buenos Aires metropolitan airport in Buenos Aires the president met with members of her cabinet to analyze the three day long conflict which “could turn ugly” according to teamsters union boss Pablo Moyano.
Gendarmerie officers clashed with truck drivers as they tried to allow trucks to leave the premises and begin distribution in order guarantee gas supply in Buenos Aires province localities affected by the strike
Earlier on Wednesday Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo announced the Head of State decided to cut her international trip short.
Cristina Fernandez had arrived in Brazil early Wednesday morning to take part of the Rio+20 environment summit after having attended the G20 Summit in Mexico and on June 14 addressing the UN Decolonization Committee in New York claiming Argentine sovereignty over the Falklands.
Randazzo said he had informed President Fernández about the seriousness of the teamsters’ nationwide strike led by Pablo Moyano, who on Tuesday announced a strike on a nationwide level until Friday and refused to abide by the mandatory conciliation issued by the Labour Ministry.
Officials fear the strike could lead to several fuel and food shortages.
Pablo Moyano, vowed to send truckers to demonstrate at Plaza de Mayo, if security forces crack down on striking workers. If they try to force us out, things will get ugly. We hope the government has common sense and doesn't do this, Moyano told reporters.
On Tuesday Vice-President Amado Boudou, the acting president, vowed to use the anti-hoarding law if the distribution of fuel and other key supplies, including food are blocked. Truckers blocked petrol plants on Tuesday night.
Speaking in Rosario, after a Flag Day rally, Randazzo called the strike a “savage act” and said the President was returning to the country because of “the teamsters' disdainful attitude.”
The teamsters led by Pablo Moyano declared a national strike and ignored the conciliatory agreement order amid the conflict with freight companies, following the failure to reach a wage deal during conciliatory talks. The conciliatory agreement was supposed to be held in place for 15 days.
Hugo Moyano, the secretary-general of the CGT union umbrella group and Pablo Moyano father, on Tuesday night reacted to Boudou’s comments saying “we will not be scared, we will not retreat” in the salary demands.
Moyano said the Vice-President “did not apply the anti-hoarding law when legislators were granted a wage increase of 100%”. Speaking to a gathering at the CGT Moyano anticipated that “in the very near future, all workers will demonstrate for more jobs and for our rights”.
The teamsters are also demanding an end to wage income tax and to salary caps to collect family allowances. The Moyanos and Cristina Fernández were strategic allies since Néstor Kirchner, the President’s late husband and predecessor in power took office in 2003. But the President has been at odds with the teamsters since refusing to accept the CGT political demands for congressional candidacies before last October’s presidential elections.
Boudou said that the walkout “has no logic”. He added: “It’s not a question of seeing who is more macho.” But Pablo Moyano replied recalling that Boudou has “to prove that he is not guilty,” in reference to several influence-peddling allegations faced by the Argentine Vice-president.
Hugo Moyano said there will probably be an order from a judge to pressure workers back into their jobs, but “we hope that neither the Police nor the Gendarmerie do something to harm the health and lives of our workers”.