Argentine unions and left-wing parties march through Buenos Aires on Workers’ Day 

The CGT, left-wing parties and social movements marched a day after deputies approved a reform package including controversial labor reforms

Argentina’s trade union federation, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), marched through downtown Buenos Aires on Wednesday to pay tribute to International Workers’ Day. They took to the streets alongside other union organizations like the Argentine Workers’ Central (CTA) and social movements. 

The Partido Obrero (Workers’ Party) and other left-wing parties rallied in Plaza de Mayo at 1 p.m. in a day of demonstrations against the government’s economic policies.

The CGT rally closed with a press conference, during which Secretary General Héctor Daer criticized Milei’s economic and labor reforms. He said his workers’ federation was “worried” by the labor reform chapter in the omnibus bill, cuts to public sector employment, and the closure of state institutions such as Télam. 

He called for dialogue with Argentina’s senators, who must now discuss the bill, to ensure that no measures are passed that “go against Argentina.”

The rallies come a day after the Lower House passed President Javier Milei’s revised omnibus bill and fiscal reforms, which include labor reforms resisted by unions. To become the law, it must also be passed in the Senate.

“There isn’t a single article that favors workers,” said Peronist deputy and bank workers’ union leader Sergio Palazzo at the congressional session Tuesday.

While the labor march was happening, Milei claimed that Argentina’s economy was starting to recover from the recession. “Inflation is falling and the level of activity is recovering,” he told radio station El Observador, adding: “The rebound is here already.” 

During his speech, Daer said that the recent cooling of inflation was because many Argentines can no longer pay for basics such as food. “[The government’s] decisions involve brutal austerity against the most vulnerable sectors, that has left a large number of soup kitchens without food, austerity that fell above all on retirees, austerity that made its goal a recession in order to guarantee price stability,” the union leader said.

Protesters of all ages filled the avenues, waving union and social movement banners so large it took a group to hold them aloft. Bands played drums and trumpets and women pushed trolleys down the road hawking chewy rounds of Paraguayan chipa. 

Despite a covering of gray clouds that threatened rain, the streets were still replete with marchers by 1 p.m., when the CGT’s press conference began. Daer claimed that 300,000 people had attended.

Traffic was cut off around Plaza de Mayo and along avenues Belgrano, San Juan, Bernardo de Irigoyen and Paseo Colón.

Under the slogan “the homeland is not for sale,” trade unions under CGT — which has announced a general strike on May 9 —  rallied on Independencia Avenue and Defensa. They marched along Independencia towards the Labor Monument, at 800 Paseo Colón, in front of the University of Buenos Aires’ School of Engineering. The Truckers’ union rallied on Independencia and Chacabuco. Social organizations like Libres del Sur and Juan Grabois’ Popular Economy Workers Union met around 9 de Julio and Independencia.

A document published by the CGT read: “We are going through a seriously bad moment as a country and a society. The national government, in the name of misunderstood ‘market freedom,’ is implementing a brutal austerity plan that mostly affects lower-income sectors, the employed middle-class, and pensioners.” 

The statement also describes the Milei administration as a government “with no social dialogue” that “does not show a sustainable or consistent economic program, does not project a horizon of encouraging expectations for the future.”

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