Argentina’s truckers are threatening to go on strike on June 14 if the government doesn’t respond to their demands for higher wages by Tuesday, saying they could replicate the recent shutdown by drivers in Brazil.

“Without a concrete response to the request we have made, we will go on a national strike on Thursday [June 14],” Hugo Moyano, head of the Federation of Truck Drivers, told an assembly of 2,000 truckers outside Buenos Aires Wednesday.

“Do not say we have not warned you,” he said in the televised speech.

Moyano said he will take the truckers’ demand for a 27% wage hike to a meeting Tuesday of the Argentina Federation of Cargo Transport Businesses, a trade union umbrella group.

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The strike, if it comes about, would likely be for one day, but Moyano did not specify the length.

Transport companies are offering a 15% wage hike in line with the government’s target designed to cut inflation to 15% by the end of 2018 from a current 25%. Most economists, however, say the government will miss the target, with inflation likely to end the year above 26% in response to a more than 20% devaluation of the peso against the dollar since May 1.

Moyano said the right-of-center government of President Mauricio Macri “lacks common sense” in expecting workers to accept 15% raises when inflation is 30%, according to his estimate. The latest government data shows that consumer prices rose 25.5% in April on the year.

“We will not accept another percentage that is not the one that corresponds,” Moyano said.

The union leader spoke as truckers around the country held surprise work stoppages and road blocks to demand higher wages as well as lower diesel prices and tolls. The blockade snarled traffic and slowed the delivery of goods Wednesday, including petroleum products. Truckers handle 90% of the movement of cargo in Argentina.

ALARM FOR GOVERNMENT

The threat of a nationwide strike has raised alarm in the Macri government that Moyano could be planning a work stoppage in the vein of what truckers did in Brazil to demand lower diesel prices. The 10-day strike brought Brazil’s economy to a near standstill last month.

On Thursday, the Argentinian government called in union leaders for talks and vowed to prevent truckers from blocking the nation’s roads.

“If they try to do a blockade, we are of course not going to allow under any circumstances that Argentina becomes blocked,” the country’s minister of security, Patricia Bullrich, said on Radio La Red. “This idea that they want to do something a la Brazil is extortion.”

–Charles Newbery, newsdesk@spglobal.com
–Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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