A labor judge from Tierra del Fuego in the extreme south of Argentina was unable to unlock a 25-day conflict between the provincial government and striking public employees since both sides stood by their position and rejected conciliation efforts.
Meanwhile the capital Ushuaia remains isolated since pickets impede access through the main highways and governor Rosana Bertone has moved to Rio Grande since strikers have occupied government house and prevent all access to the premises.
Strikers want legislation reforming provincial staff pensions scheme passed last January derogated, but Bertone who was elected by the Kirchner-s Victory Front won't yield until the strike is over, and has received open support from the federal government in Buenos Aires over her stance.
Judge Guillermo Panza this weekend had representatives from the union and the provincial government at his office, but Ushuaia said that the precarious conditions of the province's finances made it impossible to back step or throw out the January bills.
The judge at least had the decency to find a space where we could sit and dialogue and try to find a solution said union leader Horacio Catena, who in recent media interviews has stated that the objective is to bring Bertone on her knees.
Catena added that the government was only interested in implementing the January bills and they can't think of regulating what is basically wrong.
Bertone's negotiators said that there is 'no way' the province's finances can support staff pensioned with 50 years of age and retired top officials receiving the equivalent of 10.000 dollars a month.
Tierra del Fuego's Home, Justice and Security Secretary Gaston Diaz insisted pickets should be lifted and highways access freed, recalling that there is a Federal Judge ruling, with all the rights and guarantees for the eviction of the roads which is not being complied by protestors.
In effect the ruling stands but the local Gendarmerie has reported it did not have sufficient staff or equipment to dislodge the picketers.
Díaz also claimed that several members of the union with hoods and balaclavas at night have attacked with stones the homes of governor Bertone, the deputy governor and several of her ministers.
As to Judge Panza's initiative to help reach a conciliation, Diaz was not so certain about the opportunity, since it institutionalized the conflict. The government of the province is prepared to sit and dialogue but respecting the institutional framework, underlined the Tierra del Fuego government minister.
Meanwhile Federal Interior minister Rogelio Frigerio expressed full support from the Macri administration for governor Bertone and underlined that she has spoken openly to the people of Tierra del Fuego and told them the truth about the province's finances adding that the January bills are legitimate and necessary, given the fiscal and social security deficit of the province, which is virtually bankrupt.
We're following closely the situation, and we are concerned, since it has been almost a month with the province paralyzed, our full support for governor Bertone and a reasonable dialogue, underlined Frigerio.