Argentine telephone union calls for strike action over working hours, wages

20 Dec 2005

Staff at fixed line telcos Telecom Argentina and Telefónica de Argentina are planning strike action this week to demand a shorter working day and higher salaries, renewing a labour dispute that had been dormant for a year. A spokesperson for local telephone union Foetra said 15,000 employees in five provinces will take part in the strike on Wednesday and Thursday, which is likely to cause all non-automated regional services to be shut down. This includes directory information, international calls, some national long-distance calls, customer services and network repairs. A year ago, Foetra workers in Buenos Aires and its surrounds went on strike for a week over a salary dispute, occupying the two telcos’ key operational centres and threatening to paralyse nationwide and international telephone services. The union asked for a 25% salary rise and was granted an average 20% hike. The agreement ran for one year, meaning the two sides are now locked in a new round of talks. During the year, workers have formed a new federation called FATEL, which includes Foetra and two other groups. The unions are asking for a 40% pay increase and a reduction in their hours, but both companies’ management boards are reported to have offered less than 20%.