On the ninth day of a strike by public transport workers in Argentina's second largest city, Cordoba, Mayor Ramon Mestre announced the militarization of public transport services.
Rolled out just hours before strike leaders called off their action Tuesday, the increased deployment of security forces was seen as an attempt to quash the strike, with Mestre’s plan including 600 local agents, 400 armed officers and 50 federal police to patrol the city’s buses.
Nestor Antonio Pitrola, a trade unionist and leading member of the Workers' Party of Argentina, condemned the move.
"Before the teachers, now the drivers, all those who fight for their salary and their families are chosen as enemies by the government, in this case by the Ramon Mestre Cordoban government," declared Pitrola, reported HispanTV.
"The CTEP trade union expressing solidarity with the workers."
"They deserve our full support because they are fighting for a cause for the benefit of their working families and all the working people of Argentina: that the wages cover a family basket," he added, backing the transport workers’ strike.
The decision to call off the strike came as drivers began joining the municipality’s “emergency” transportation provisions, making the action ineffective.
"It's the second time we (are showing our) goodwill. There will not be any workers left in the street," said one strike leader, Marcelo Marín, referring to the some 90 workers that had been fired for taking action, that striking workers will continue to fight on behalf of.
"Workers rallying in the street last week."
Just the night before, the workers had been close to achieving an agreement with the city, but they backed out of the deal last minute and announced that they would continue striking, citing that their conditions have not yet been met.
"We are not going to sit at any table if (our conditions) are dismissed," one worker had said.
Workers had rejected the mayor’s call to keep laid-off workers unemployed and not pay those who had missed work because they were striking. This came despite the original agreement from the municipality and employers to advance the payment of a bonus, to reverse the layoffs and to pay workers despite their strike.
But while the strike has now been called off with working saying the action was no longer an effective way to pressure authorities, the mayor is still holding back from meeting these demands.
"Nothing is negotiable for us, the days not worked will not be paid, and those who are fired will continue to be fired,” stated Mestre Tuesday afternoon.
The transport workers, who are still pressing for negotiations, had begun their strike nine days ago to demand a salary increase.