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  • Lowering the high rates of unemployment has been one of the main demands of social movements in Argentina since Macri became president.

    Lowering the high rates of unemployment has been one of the main demands of social movements in Argentina since Macri became president. | Photo: Reuters

Almost 700 workers lost their jobs, leading to a strike demanding the reopening of the company’s Buenos Aires facility.

Argentine police violently evicted on Wednesday a group of laid-off workers from the PepsiCo company in the capital city of Buenos Aires, after more than three weeks of occupying the factory.

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Since June 20, a group of workers and labor rights activists have occupied the plant to defend the 691 people that lost their jobs after an announcement made by the company confirming that they would no longer operate.

Security forces destroyed makeshift camps and detained several people, but those in the strike alleged that they don't know how many people were taken away.

Witnesses say police fired tear gas and gave a time limit of five minutes for the workers to leave the premises. Some workers burned tires and threw rocks while a smaller group climbed to the building's roof to resist the eviction and arrest.

 The government has turned into the armed wing of the millionaires.

Let's Change (Macri's political party) is in campaign.

Judge Andrea Rodriguez Mentaste approved the eviction, which began at 8 a.m. local time and lasted for two hours.

"They arrived and advanced without talking with us. We were beaten and they threw pepper spray," Left Front lawmaker Nicolas del Cano said.

"We tried to talk to the judge but she did not respond. The workers sent a letter to the governor and they responded with sticks and repression. The workers want to defend their jobs."

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Workers said an agreement between President Mauricio Macri and Buenos Aires Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal led to the layoffs, in accordance with austerity measures that applied to their company. Such measures, implemented by Macri since taking office at the end of 2015, have led to more than 179,000 workers in the public and private sector losing their jobs in 2016.

Gas and electricity prices are rising. Jobs are being cut. Government institutions are downsizing while private companies linked to the ruling administration are getting tax cuts.

PepsiCo, on the other hand, said it closed the factory "because of the inherent obstacles to the location of the plant in a largely residential area, its complex structure cost and extensive logistical requirements," according to a statement. It said it will relocate 155 workers and compensate the remaining employees.


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