REUTERS, DECEMBER 29, 2020
BUENOS AIRES — The loading of 162 ships has been delayed in Argentine agro-industrial ports, bogging down $1.458 billion in exports due to a strike by oilseed workers, as a new round of wage talks began, an analyst with the Rosario grains exchange said on Tuesday.
Soy crushing and other farm industry activities have been put on hold since the workers walked off the job on Dec. 9. Unions representing the striking workers were meeting with export company representatives on Tuesday to try to hammer out a 2021 contract deal that would end the work stoppage.
The workers are on strike over wages that they say do not adequately compensate them for Argentina’s high inflation rate and the risk of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is a major corn, wheat and soybean supplier as well as the world’s No. 1 exporter of soymeal livestock feed used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.
“From information on the status of the ships published by the maritime agency NABSA, as of December 28 there were a total of 162 ships waiting to access up-river port terminals,” said Desire Sigaudo, a markets analyst at the exchange.
“It is estimated, according to cargo schedules, that these vessels would carry 3.4 million tonnes of different agricultural and agro-industrial products for an approximate value of $1.458 billion,” she told Reuters.
Argentina’s Ministry of Labor was hosting the bargaining session on Tuesday in an effort to normalize exports as quickly as possible and reactivate much-needed foreign currency inflows.
Argentina’s CIARA-CEC chamber of soymeal manufacturers and exporters on Sunday spiced up an offer to striking workers, proposing further increases in its wage and bonus proposals.
“We hope the Ministry of Labor … sets salary conditions in accordance with the reality of the industry and the country,” said Gustavo Idígoras, head of CIARA-CEC.
樱花动漫网 官网 A spokesman for the Federation of Oilseed Workers – which is on strike together with the SOEA oilseed union said the labor groups had yet to formally receive the latest offer.
“So we will find out right then and there at the hearing,” the spokesman said. “Based on that, we will see if it is possible to reach an agreement.”
The strike has affected the operations of international agro-giants such as Cargill Inc, Bunge Ltd and Louis Dreyfus Co, and has sent soybean prices skyrocketing to six-year highs on the Chicago exchange.
(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jonathan Oatis)