Argentina's Milei faces nationwide strike against his 'mega-decree' labour reforms

Argentina's biggest labor union the CGT led a nationwide strike to protest against President Javier Milei's plans for deep spending cuts and wider-ranging deregulation of the economy.

Demonstrations, supported by various other unions, unfolded in the capital, Buenos Aires, and across the country, with participation from social organisations and political adversaries, including members of the long-dominant Peronist party.

Prior to his presidential role, Milei gained notoriety for his televised criticisms of the political establishment, securing a decisive victory in the previous year. Identifying as a libertarian, he committed to significant cuts in state spending to address a substantial fiscal deficit, attributing it to rampant inflation, which reached 211% by the end of 2023.

On December 20, Milei issued a decree aimed at altering or revoking over 300 existing laws, intending to diminish union influence and deregulate an economy known for extensive state intervention. Additionally, he submitted an omnibus bill to Congress proposing extensive reforms across political, social, fiscal, legal, administrative, and security domains.

Wednesday marked Argentina's first general strike in over four years and, notably, the fastest ever organised during a president's term since the return of democracy in 1983, as reported by local media.

Unlike his predecessor Alberto Fernández, a center-left figure, Milei faced this swift opposition.

Having secured a 56% majority in the runoff vote, Milei, in his inaugural address, warned Argentinians that the situation would worsen before improving. Despite rising inflation and significant layoffs in state-owned enterprises, recent polls indicate that he still maintains the support of over half of the surveyed population.