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Tyre Workers in Argentina Fight for Reinstatements, Fair Wages

7 September, 2008

ICEM South American rubber workers’ affiliate, Sindicato Unico del Neumático Argentina (SUTNA), is engaged in a bitter labour struggle with three tyre producers over a wage dispute that that has escalated into job dismissals for some 215 workers.

On 24-25 July, 4,000 workers took 48-hour strike action under SUTNA’s banner, protesting prolonged bargaining. The rubber companies, Bridgestone-Firestone, Pirelli, and Argentine-based FATE, responded by sending letters of dismissals to the workers.

Even after Argentina’s Labour Ministry began holding a ten-day compulsory conciliation session in early August – a stipulated period that mandated the companies to recall the dismissed workers – the tyre manufacturers did not. On 25 August, SUTNA took another industrial action and promised last week that further strikes would occur if the workers were not returned to their jobs.

The dispute has been marked by several protests and demonstrations by different trade unions and civil society organizations supporting SUTNA and its union members. A prior labour agreement covering the 4,000 expired in April.

The union was seeking a 35% increase, while the companies have offered 28%. SUTNA did amend its pay proposal recently to meet the 28%, but only under condition that the tyre producers recall the terminated workers. The three companies have refused to do so. FATE sacked 87 workers, while Pirelli and Bridgestone fired 72 and 56, respectively.

The ICEM issued a Circular to its affiliated trade unions, calling on them to send messages of support to SUTNA. Those messages can be e-mailed to SUTNA General Secretary Pedro Wasiejko at [email protected], or faxed to +54 11 4943 1189.