After a plenary session on October 6, oil workers’ unions decided to suspend the 48-hour strike which was originally slated for October 8-9. Calls for the strike were triggered by an article from the draft Budget Bill for 2019 that would allegedly take away certain benefits to oil workers and roughnecks, including exemptions from taxes. The decision to call off the strike reportedly came after union representatives reached an understanding with congressmen from the ruling party and the opposition. Politicians supposedly reassured the unions that the contested article in the Budget Bill would be removed. Nevertheless, union sources claim that the situation will be assessed again before October 25, pending on political developments.
Unions in the oil sector have a record of confrontation with regional and federal authorities. Given high-demand for oil workers in Argentina’s southern provinces in Patagonia, professionals in the sector have traditionally enjoyed higher wages and benefits than workers in other industries. Furthermore, bearing in mind the growing importance of the energy sector in the country’s economic output, workers have stepped up pressure to increase their overall conditions. Having identified oil exploration and drilling as critical for the country’s economic recovery, politicians on a national level have seemingly established a consensus in regards to appeasing the said unions. However, provincial authorities are concerned about a possible increase in the number of workers being laid off due to rising employment costs owing to current legislation, as well as the inability to collect progressive tax based on production outputs. These contradictions could potentially translate in a renewed call for strikes and demonstrations.