The world over has seen widespread union strikes about pay and conditions, the most recent of which is in Buenos Aires between the government and the Trucking Workers’ Union. The first strike had been due to end on Friday and was over pay. Facing mounting tensions and the blocked depots and refineries restricting the flow of gasoline to all parts of the country, the Argentine government resolved the dispute by granting a pay increase of 25.5 per cent. This was after the union defied an order to enter into negotiations with the government deploying military police to guard fuel plants in a bid to get the fuel trucks moving, and in an effort to resolve the strike.
Argentine General Federation of Unions (CGT) Leader Hugo Moyano, whose son Pablo Moyano leads the Trucking Workers Union, announced an end to the strike that caused widespread shortages, but instead declared that all unions would hold a nationwide rally in front of the presidential palace on July 27. The heavy-handed tactics from both sides has resulted in the government lodging a criminal complaint of the equivalent of $888,400 USD for defying an order for the dispute to be mediated amicably.
As CEDR Skills teach on their negotiation courses, before deciding on a course of action (including sending in the military!), it is vital to map out your interests and those of the other side. In this case, the populist centre-left government risks clashing with a powerful union body, as well as isolating those members who are both unionised and support the government. On the other hand, as the Financial Times has suggested, Moyano is looking to preserve his power base within the labour movement before the CGT elections in July. This declaration of a national strike forces the rest of the unions to support him, re-securing his diminishing power base while damaging President Cristina Kirchner, with whom he has a degenerating relationship for some time.
Ultimately, whatever is proposed the government and the unions need to collaborate, engage in discussions, and although different and perhaps competing agendas may be at play, realise that many shared goals do exist. Dealing with the ‘political’ is always going to be a risk, but the bottom line is that the President and the Union Leader have to establish and maintain trust by building their frayed relationship; the key to any effective negotiation.