December 18, 2017 / 3:50 PM / a year ago

Argentine Congress tries again at pension reform ahead of strike

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Argentina’s Congress could pass a hotly debated pension reform measure on Monday, lawmakers told reporters, as demonstrators gathered in the capital and the country’s main union called a 24-hour general strike to protest the proposal.

Debate on the bill was suspended on Thursday amid violent protests, which were put down by police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. On Friday the government amended the proposal to include a bonus payment to the most needy retirees.

“It will be a one-time bonus payment made in March,” opposition lawmaker Agustin Rossi told reporters.

Union leaders and opposition activists say the legislation will hurt pensioners.

The day-long strike called by Argentina’s main CGT labor group started at noon local time (1500 GMT). It was not expected to affect the nation’s transportation system until late Monday night, allowing workers to get home in the afternoon.

The bill, key to President Mauricio Macri’s efforts to lower business costs and reduce Argentina’s fiscal deficit, has already passed the Senate, leaving the lower House to give final legislative approval. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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