Argentine unions vow further strikes to block pact with IMF

    20 de julio de 2018

    Buenos Aires, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- The CGT, Argentina's main labor federation, said Thursday that workers will continue to mount strikes and protests until President Mauricio Macri abandons the agreement he signed with the International Monetary Fund.

    "This CGT is not in agreement with the accord and will not permit any kind of austerity," Carlos Acuña, a member of the CGT's executive troika, told a press conference in Buenos Aires.

    Macri's conservative administration turned to the IMF last month as the Argentine peso continued to plunge against the dollar despite the Central Bank's decision to boost the benchmark interest rate to 40 percent.

    The prospect that the IMF - associated by many in Argentina with the 1998-2002 depression that saw the economy contract by 20 percent - will again have a major say in economic policy has increased the sense of grievance among government opponents already unhappy about growing poverty and massive increases in utility rates.

    The CGT organized a general strike on June 25 in opposition to Macri's negotiations with the IMF. Days later, however, the president signed a stand-by loan agreement for a record $50 billion.

    Thursday's press conference came on the eve of the arrival in Buenos Aires of IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to attend a meeting of G-20 finance ministers.

    "With humility, reasoning, logic, and sensitivity, the government needs to understand that its word is worth even less than the Argentina peso," the CGT's Juan Carlos Schmid said.

    Macri can look forward to more protests and general strikes if he fails to adopt measures that favor the "most vulnerable sectors," Schmid said.