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  • Public workers demand an end to economic austerity.

    Public workers demand an end to economic austerity. | Photo: Twitter / @emergentemedio

Published 22 August 2018
Opinion

After the police operation workers and students organized a second march to reject austerity and police repression.

Argentine police brutally repressed a workers’ protests in La Plata, Argentina using rubber-coated bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrators, who sought to speak with a “high authority” in the Buenos Aires governorate.

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At least 15 people were injured, and five were detained.

Workers at the Rio Santiago Shipyard began protesting after a collective bargaining meeting was suspended. Over 3,000 workers started a caravan at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Their first stop was a highway that connects Buenos Aires and La Plata, where they installed a roadblock for two hours.  

The Rio Santiago Shipyard is one of Latin America’s most important , and it currently employs 3,300 workers who build ships and other industrial products. Since 2018 the shipyard has been threatened with being shut down.     

Union organizers spoke, and one of the leaders said: “the struggle for the shipyard is today in the vanguard of the defense of work sources for public workers and that is why we are organizing a national day of struggle on September 12.”

After they walked through the downtown area, stopped outside the economy ministry, and outside the University of La Plata where people were holding a wake for Maria Isabel Mariani, a founding member of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.

Outside the university, workers clapped in her memory to celebrate her legacy as a human rights advocate.

Their last stop was governor Maria Eugenia Vidal’s office, where they chanted messages like “kick them all out!” and “the shipyard is ours, and it’s not for sale.”

Violence ensued after the police hit a protester with a patrol car and two protesters attempted to break the locks to the governorate’s doors. Shortly after the police approached with water cannons and began shooting tear gas canister at the protesters.  

"@todonoticias shows you the picture of workers on top of the patrol car, but hides the previous picture of the same patrol car running over a worker of #AstilleroRioSantiago..."

“We want the governor (Maria Eugenia Vidal) to show us some sensitivity,” Francisco Banegas of the State Workers’ Association (ATE) said.

A worker in the shipyard told Pagina 12 they are demanding an answer from “a neoliberal government that wants to make us disappear by closing our source of work.”

The shipyard almost disappeared during Argentina's last economic crisis. In the late nineties, it was virtually privatized, and in 2003 it was almost shut down. Former president Nestor Kirchner recovered the public company in 2004.

On Wednesday students and union workers hit the streets of La Plata again to reject austerity measures and police repression. ATE declared a provincial strike to ensure workers’ participation.  

 "The media is forgetting to show what is happening in La Plata right now, thousands of workers and students against austerity and repression #Macrisis #GoodWednesday"

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