Trucker Kills Port Worker on Strike Picket Line
On Thursday, a truck driver struck and killed a union member on a picket line near the port of San Lorenzo, Argentina. The victim, identified as Jonathan Gardini, was the father of four children and an employee at a plant run by YPF.
"We were on the picket, but unfortunately a crazy trucker came and . . . [drove] the vehicle over," said union member Jorge Ortiz, speaking to local media. "The guy was out of his mind, out of his mind. Some who saw him up close say he was drunk, but that will have to be determined by [the authorities]. We were next to the compañero who passed away and we saved ourselves by chance."
Workers on the scene told media that the driver had stopped at the picket earlier and threatened the workers. He allegedly departed from the scene, unhooked his trailer, and returned at high speed, driving directly into the picket line.
Police were already on scene to keep order, and they shot out the truck's tires and arrested the driver. They administered a blood-alcohol test and recorded a BAC indicating intoxication. After the arrest, a group of strikers set the truck on fire.
Edgardo Quiroga, leader of the union CGT San Lorenzo, alleged that the driver acted with intent to kill. "It was not a traffic accident, it was not a truck driver angry for being delayed. This man went over to the picket [and] insulted those who were there. He told us that he was going to kill us all." Quiroga asked authorities to investigate whether the driver may have been sent by a third party to attack the strikers, and he called on prosecutors to seek the highest possible sentence.
Union leader Roberto Vila alleged that the fatal attack was "a shared responsibility between the employers and the government that could not guarantee the security" during the strike. He noted that managers did not stop receiving truck traffic despite advance notice of the labor action, which created "conflict between the truckers and the workers who were demonstrating."
After the attack, Quiroga announced that the 24-hour strike would be suspended. The union still intends to participate in a national general strike scheduled for April 6.
The port region of Gran Rosario is an extended complex of terminals along the Paraná River, including facilities at Capitán Bermúdez, San Lorenzo and Puerto San Martín. It is by far the country's largest bulk export complex, handling liquid and dry bulk products from soybeans to petrochemicals. The port workers are calling for a minimum salary of 27,000 pesos ($1,750) and an end to layoffs, and the CGT strike was intended to shut down terminal operations by blocking truck access at key intersections.