Fear: noun. An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat – Oxford Dictionary.
I had the fear before all this strike lark kicked off. I’m one of two Buenos Aires Herald employees who start work at 3pm and the idea of it being me and Mariana, beginning all this, filled me with dread. I didn’t even think I’d be let in the building, in all honesty. It was just a feeling I had.
Two years ago, when we were bargaining collectively and in the process of being bought out by AmFin, owners of Ambito Financiero, a dispute arose and Silvina, currently one of our two graphic designers, wasn’t allowed into the Azopardo office. She was firmly escorted off the premises and past the famous colourful Herald graffiti. She’d been sacked, along with several employees from the printing plant, illegally. Her dismissal only lasted a few days, but it was shocking and upsetting for her, and all of us, regardless. So easily done. Sil was simply cast aside with little regard as management attempted to flash some muscle.
If you Wikiepdia the Buenos Aires Herald, you’ll discover it was the only Argentine media publishing stories about people made to disappear during the dictatorship (around 30,000 remain unaccounted for). I, absolutely am not, trying to justify going on strike for the work that editor Robert Cox and journalist Andrew Graham-Yooll did in the 1970s and 1980s, but. Some of my colleagues have been intimidated over the “illegality” of a strike. That if we went ahead with it, AmFin would close the Herald down. Anonymous letters calling the strike illegal were also stuck up next to posters announcing it (our declaration confirms its legality).
Both Cox and Graham-Yooll were forced into exile for their work. I repeat. I am not attempting to compare our working conditions with theirs. However, why has my colleague Gustavo been intimidated? He, we, are undertaking what is our right: to negotiate an annual pay rise.
Needless to say, the anonymous letters have been trashed, removed as silently as they appeared.
A note on the actual strike. We were allowed in the building, to the second-and-a-half floor where we work. I found out one of my colleagues, Caro, went on strike for 40 days against Perfil in a pay dispute. We ate too many biscuits. We met our union rep Judith. And we decided to strike for a second consecutive day today.
As Vero the proofreader said, it’s best to retain a little bit of fear within during these striking times.
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