Striking health workers in Argentina reject govt’s 53% salary increase, maintaining road blockade to country’s biggest shale site

Health workers who are blocking roads to the country’s biggest shale play at Vaca Muerta have rejected a reported 53% salary increase, paid in installments until April 2022, amid high inflation and a third wave of Covid-19.

A protester told local media on Monday that workers are demanding an immediate 40% rise, given the impact of inflation, and as a third wave of Covid-19 hits the country. They have rejected a 53% pay increase that would have been paid incrementally over a year. 

The strike has lasted nearly two months, and, in a recent move, healthcare workers have blocked roads to Argentina’s largest shale gas and oil site in an attempt to push the government to act on their demands. 

The site, owned by state-run YPF, produces nearly 13% of the nation’s oil output, and the health workers’ demonstration has sparked fears of fuel shortages. Roads to Vaca Muerta have been blocked for three weeks, paralyzing operations. According to the TN news channel, workers have been arriving at the site by helicopter.

“We know we’re causing problems by not letting fuel and goods trucks through, but someone has to listen to us,” said one nurse participating in the blockade near the town of Rincón de los Sauces. 

While Argentina, like many nations around the world, is facing a resurgence of Covid-19, registering case numbers higher than the first and second wave, the country also suffers from one of the highest inflation rates in the world. Inflation over the past 12 months was 42.6%, albeit lower than previous years.

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