Demonstrators associated with the Unidad Piquetera grouping of social organisations announced Tuesday that they had decided to camp out on Avenida 9 de Julio overnight as they took their demands directly to the Social Development Ministry.
Picket leaders, led by Polo Obrero chief Eduardo Belliboni, confirmed the decision to the Noticias Argentinas news agency, adding that members had voted to back the action.
He said the protesters would stay for the remainder of the night until 6pm Wednesday in principle, as leaders await a meeting with national government officials at the Ministry headed by Juan Zabaleta.
Should a favourable response to their demands not be given, the encampment could be extended by another day via a second vote, he added.
The decision to camp out delivered instant traffic chaos to downtown Buenos Aires as street blockades were set up in Microcentro during rush hour.
The picketers are calling for the government to boost employment, increase the value of welfare payments and ramp up deliveries to soup kitchens across Argentina as citizens struggle to cope with runaway inflation. Prices have risen 56.4 percent since January with annual projections now nearing 100 percent.
"At 6pm, each organisation put forward its definition of how to give continuity to this plan of struggle. There was unanimity in the proposal: we decided to stay the night here on [Avenida] 9 de Julio in front of the Ministry of Social Development," said Silvia Saravia, a member of Barrios de Pie social movement, told Noticias Argentinas.
Picket leaders have accused President Alberto Fernández’s government of introducing greater austerity by stealth and say officials are not doing enough to tackle a growing social crisis.
“Social plans are at 24,000 pesos and have lost purchasing power because food is increasingly beyond the means of many in Argentina," Bellobini said in a radio interview on Tuesday,.
A spokesperson for the Social Development Ministry told Noticias Argentinas that officials from the portfolio had held a meeting last Friday with representatives from Unidad Piquetera to try and find a solution.