Buenos Aires, Jul 7 (EFE).- The Argentine capital had the appearance of a ghost town Friday amid a work stoppage by members of the UTA bus drivers union.
The selective 24-hour job action, which began at midnight Thursday, targeted only transit companies that failed to comply with an accord increasing drivers’ pay, the UTA said.
The dispute affects Greater Buenos Aires, the northern provinces of Corrientes, Entre Rios, Santa Fe, Formosa, Misiones, and Tucuman, and La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province.
Transportation “is guaranteed and will be normal” in the other 17 provinces, the union said.
“We are not going to let them hold us hostage, because this handful of transport companies want to hold the workers and users hostage,” UTA chief Roberto Fernandez told Todo Noticias television.
He asked passengers inconvenienced by the work stoppage to understand that the drivers only want “to receive the salary agreed on months ago.”
Senior officials of President Alberto Fernandez’s government met Friday with representatives of workers and management.
Labor Minister Raquel Olmos blamed the stoppage on the bus companies, accusing the owners of staging a politically motivated lockout.
“The state transferred the subsidies corresponding to that payment of salaries. The owners, in some cases, paid out correctly, and in the AMBA (Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area) they carried out an illicit retention of funds that were destined to pay salaries,” she wrote on Twitter.
If the absence of a speedy resolution, the government may impose fines on the companies, Olmos said.