Argentine government reaches salary deal with two powerful unions
BUENOS AIRES May 19 (Reuters) - Two powerful trade unions in Argentina reached a deal on Tuesday with the government for a roughly 27 percent salary hike for workers, the economy ministry said, at a time the stagnating economy faces one of the world's highest inflation rates.
The figure comes in higher than the government's official inflation statistic of 24 percent for 2014 and will reflect a desire to avoid a wave of strikes or unruly protests in the run-up to October's presidential election. It is, however, below the private estimates of around 35 percent for inflation in 2014.
The deal was reached with the Metallurgical Workers Union (UOM) as well as the Commerce union. The UOM, one of the largest unions in Argentina's private industrial sector, had initially sought an increase of 32 percent and planned a 36-hour strike later this month. But the government still needs to reach agreement with other unions.
"Employers and workers concluded that the slowdown in inflation was one of the key elements that allowed for the deals to be reached," the economy ministry said in a statement.
Argentina's "paritaria" pay talks are negotiated between trade unions, the government and employers.
The high-profile truckers' union, which is widely viewed as closer to the opposition, and teachers, have yet to reach an accord. The muscular CGT umbrella group of unions is spearheading calls for a nationwide strike in early June.
(Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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