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Argentina grinds to a halt as unions launch strike against Milei reforms

The Retiro train station hall is empty of commuters due to a general strike against the reforms of President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, May 9, 2024.
The Retiro train station hall is empty of commuters due to a general strike against the reforms of President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, May 9, 2024. Copyright Rodrigo Abd/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Rodrigo Abd/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Eleanor Butler
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Workers in the South American country are protesting against austerity measures and planned reforms by new libertarian President Javier Milei.

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Shops, airports, banks, schools and other services remained closed in Argentina on Thursday as part of a 24-hour strike.

Workers mobilised against right-wing President Javier Milei, an economist and former media pundit, who won a shock election last year after pledging to kickstart Argentina’s economy.

Milei, who carried around a chainsaw during his election campaign, wants to rescue his country from financial ruin by slashing public spending.

Argentina is currently sitting under a heavy deficit and has the world's highest inflation rate, increasing at nearly 300% a year.

Since taking office, Milei has managed to slow monthly inflation rates and achieve Argentina's first quarterly budget surplus since 2008.

On the other hand, his cost-cutting policies have pushed up already high poverty levels and caused economic activity to plummet.

Thursday's action marked the second nationwide union strike since Milei came to power last December.

Hugo Yasky, secretary general of the major CTA union, posted on X that the strike was against "a government that only benefits the rich at the expense of the people, gives away natural resources and seeks to eliminate workers' rights."

The government has criticised the strike as "purely political" and lambasted the disruptive effect it has on daily life.

Despite growing anger from some Argentinians, Milei's approval rating was recently recorded at 49% by top polling firm Isonomia.

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