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Argentine rail workers strike paralyses transit

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Buenos Aires, Feb 22

Railway workers in Argentina went on a 24-hour nationwide strike, demanding better wages as the government announced it might fine those “responsible” for organising the work stoppage, according to authorities.

“More than a million people have been affected in their means of getting to work, medical consultations and recreational activities due to the train strike we are experiencing,” Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni said on Wednesday.

“The pertinent measures are being evaluated so that this does not remain without consequences,” he added.

The cessation of rail service brought the capital Buenos Aires to a near standstill, overwhelming subway and bus lines, with long lines of commuters waiting at transit hubs throughout the city, Xinhua news agency reported.

The general secretary of the Railway Conductors Union, Omar Maturano, said workers were calling for “a recomposition” in wages given Argentina’s high inflation rate.

Argentina registered inflation of 254.2 per cent in January year-on-year, the highest rate in the last 32 years, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses.

Healthcare workers are set to launch a 24-hour strike on Thursday to demand better wages, while workers in other sectors, including education, have said they will strike on Monday unless the government meets with unions to discuss wage hikes.

Railway union leaders met on Wednesday with authorities to discuss wage increases, but with no consensus in sight, and they agreed to suspend talks until Tuesday.

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