About two dozen journalists at the 135-year-old Buenos Aires Herald went on strike Monday, demanding higher wages and better working conditions.
As of late Wednesday, the journalists were still on strike, having rejected a 3% retroactive pay hike for 2010 and a 10% raise for 2011.
The Herald, Argentina’s only major English-language newspaper, gained international recognition for its courageous coverage of disappearances and other dastardly deeds during the country’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
“Unfortunately we haven’t been able to reach an agreement about salaries,” said Judith Rabinovich, a spokeswoman for the Buenos Aires Press Workers Union, or UTPBA. “We’ve had a lot of patience with these negotiations, which have been going on since January.”
Journalists at the Herald typically make somewhere between 2,300 (US $563) and 4,000 pesos a month, with the average likely being closer to 2,700 pesos.
“There’s a big difference between what Herald workers make and what reporters at other papers make,” Rabinovich said in a phone interview. “These salaries are very low. But these are very qualified reporters who speak two languages.”
Herald employees are seeking a 35% salary hike for 2011, putting the basic salary at the paper at around 4,100 pesos a month, she said.
The vast bulk of economists in Argentina estimate that inflation totals somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% annually. Most major unions have obtained annual salary hikes of between 20% and 30%, and often higher, in recent years.
“The company is very far from satisfying that request and making a deal,” he added.
The Herald is owned by the same publishing company that owns the financial daily Ambito Financiero. Despite the strike, Rabinovich said a reduced version of the paper is being published.
Union reps are set to meet with management Thursday at the Labor Ministry to try and reach a a settlement. A spokesman for the Herald’s management could not be reached immediately for comment.
UPDATE: The Herald workers on Thursday suspended the strike in hopes of reaching an agreement soon with management.