Bus-workers in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA) launched strike action on Monday, bringing more than 50 lines to a halt and sparking transport chaos.
Unionised workers from the Doscientos Ocho Transporte Automotor S. A. (DOTA) group walked off the job saying they were seeking the payment of a salary debt and improved wages. The strike affects a large part of the bus service for Buenos Aires City and its surrounding suburbs, with more than 50 lines not running.
The lines that are on strike are: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 28, 31, 44, 50, 51, 56, 57, 57, 74, 76, 79, 84, 91, 99, 101, 107, 108, 117, 135, 135, 146, 150, 161, 164, 168, 177, 188, 263, 271, 299, 370, 373, 384, 385, 388, 403, 405, 421, 429, 435, 503 San Vicente, 514 Almirante Brown, 520 Lanús. In addition, some other lines of the DOTA Group, such as the 100, will continue to operate but with less frequency.
The strike entered into force on midnight Sunday night and will continue "until the situation is resolved," the workers said in statement.
Thousands of passengers in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area have already been affected by the action, and many more may join the list, as several lines could join the measure if the wage conflict is not resolved soon.
According to an agreement signed in January, workers were to receive a 10 percent increase that was to be paid over the course of February. This has not been paid, says the workers. Until now, DOTA has not communicated with the workers' representatives nor deposited the claimed balance, they added.
The interruption to many bus lines sparked chaotic scenes Monday morning, with the strike falling on the day many children across the AMBA region began the school year. Train lines were overloaded, and the Panamericana and Western highways were busier than usual, with delays at the junction with Avenida General Paz and the area of Haedo.
Following a threat of strike action from the the Unión Tranviarios Automotor (UTA) last week, the government announced last week that it will grant a total of 28 billion to urban and suburban public transport companies in the interior of the country in the form of subsidies. The measure envisages the payment of up to seven billion pesos during January, February, March and April of this year.