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Argentine oil union starts 24-hour strike, asks for wage increase: statement

BUENOS AIRES, Apr 14 (Reuters) – Argentina’s main oil workers union announced on Wednesday that it will begin a 24-hour strike at night to demand a wage increase, a measure that will hit activity in Vaca Muerta, one of the largest unconventional hydrocarbon reserves in the world.

The workers demand a 30% increase in 2020 wages, in addition to the 15% agreed in October, to equalize inflation in the country, according to the Private Oil and Gas Union of Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa, which represents 24,000 workers.

“There was no offer on the negotiating table, and as we had warned, after five unsuccessful meetings (with the companies) we launched a total stoppage of activities,” said the organization’s secretary general, Guillermo Pereyra, in a statement.

The measure will be a new blow to production in Vaca Muerta, which for a week had its activity affected by protests by health workers, who blocked the main access routes to the fields to demand a wage increase.

The protest on the routes was already beginning to threaten the supply of fuel and the transportation of gas to the entire country.

Argentina needs to boost production in Vaca Muerta, which is the world’s fourth largest unconventional oil reserve and second for gas, to reduce its energy imports as the government seeks to protect central bank reserves.

(Report by Eliana Raszewski, Edited by Javier López de Lérida and Manuel Farías)

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