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Argentina bank workers threaten to strike over stalled wage talks

Argentine bank workers are considering calling for an industrywide strike during the week of Feb. 6 due to stalled salary negotiations.

Talks broke down following a Feb. 1 meeting between union and bank industry representatives. Workers are pushing for big wage hikes and a lump sum payment agreed to in late 2016 amid sharp inflation.

Prices rose 1.2% month over month and were up 41% year over year in December 2016, according to the Buenos Aires city government. Inflation is expected to slow to 20.7% in 2017, according to analysts polled by Argentina's Central Bank.

The bank workers' union is pushing for a total wage hike package of around 24% in 2017, according to local newspaper La Nación. The government and banks are trying to limit the increase to about 18%, in line with the government's 2017 inflation target of 17%.

The potential industrial action comes less than two months after Argentine bank employees planned a systemwide strike for mid-December 2016, but later called off the move.

The terms of an agreement with bank workers will be closely watched by other unions about to enter 2017 wage negotiations and will likely set a floor for those talks. Leaders of the large CGT umbrella union are threatening nationwide protests and strikes over rising unemployment and prices ahead of talks with the government and employers set for February and March.