The long-distance and inner city bus strike that began Friday at midnight has been lifted, Economy Minister and presidential candidate Sergio Massa announced this afternoon at a press conference.
“From 17:30, the strike will be lifted,” Massa said today in the Economy Ministry, joined by Transportation and Labor Ministers Diego Giuliano and Kelly Olmos, as well as Buenos Aires’ Transportation Minister Jorge D’Onofrio and representatives of five transportation unions.
The Automobile and Tram Union (UTA, by its Spanish acronym) had called the strike in response to bus companies failing to pay what they said were “agreed salary raises,” according to a press release. The strike affected Greater Buenos Aires, as well as the city of La Plata and five other provinces: Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Santa Fe, Formosa, Misiones, and Tucumán.
Massa blamed the strike on the businessmen that run the companies, saying they were negotiating “with a revolver on the table” and “taking passengers and workers hostage.” The Minister said that 85% of the bus fare is paid by the government, and added that the money for salaries had been transferred to the companies.
“Retaining the state’s money, which belongs to the workers, may constitute a crime,” he said. Earlier today, he called the companies “parasites of the state.”
Public transport in Greater Buenos Aires was further complicated due to a surprise 4.30 a.m. strike on the Sarmiento train line, which connects BA city with the capital’s western outskirts. The strike ended around 9.30 a.m.