Argentina's Metro Strike Rolls Into 10th Day

Monday, 13 August 2012 01:19 PM

BUENOS AIRES,, Argentina — Buenos Aires commuters were stranded without subways for a 10th day Monday as attempts to resolve a crippling metro strike appeared to be deadlocked — despite the unions' promise of a truce.

The strike — the longest in the nearly 100-year history of the Buenos Aires metro — has dragged on because the federal government and the city each insist the other is responsible for the underground rail system.

Nestor Segovia, head of the Argentine capital's metro workers union, which represents about 2,500 workers, said the union had agreed to sign a truce to end the conflict.

"We are expecting a call to sign. We want a solution. We ask only that the government and the Metrovias management be reasonable," shop steward Andrew Fonte added.

Alberto Pianelli, another union official, said workers were willing to compromise in the interest of the millions of commuters stuck in chaotic gridlock as they try to get around, "if there can be minimum guarantees."

Last week a judge ordered Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri to negotiate with the subway workers — who have demanded a 28 percent pay hike — and with private subway operator Metrovias.

Macri, an opposition leader who is expected to run for president in 2015, is embroiled in a political struggle with President Cristina Kirchner and has resisted.

Argentina's federal government said in January it was turning over the management of the metro to the city. But Macri has insisted federal authorities first turn over the funds necessary to improve the system.

He accuses the federal government of encouraging the strike, adding sarcastically that the problem would go away if "I should say I'm not a candidate in 2015."

Argentina's transportation minister countered "the problem is the incompetence of the city government."

The Buenos Aires metro — the oldest in Latin America — spans 56.7 kilometers (35 miles) and typically attracts about a million riders a day.

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Monday, 13 August 2012 01:19 PM
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