Wage talks between Argentine port workers and soymeal manufacturers were stalled on Tuesday, with a labor strike going into its 13th day, bogging down agricultural exports from one of the world’s main bread baskets.
Argentina is the top international supplier of soymeal, a livestock feed used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia. Oilseed workers and grains inspectors are demanding pay increases big enough to compensate them for high inflation and the risk of working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contract negotiations have been tense, with both sides accusing the other of intransigence.
“Yesterday afternoon there was the beginning of a rapprochement, but another meeting in the evening was canceled and we do not know why,” Daniel Succi, an official with the Union of Oilseed Workers and Employees (SOEA), told Reuters.
Late in the day on Tuesday unions linked to Argentina´s maritime and port sector announced they too would start a 36-hour strike beginning Wednesday morning in a show of solidarity with SOEA and other groups.
Since last week no soybean trucks have entered terminals at the country’s main grains hub of Rosario, from which about 80% of Argentina’s farm exports are shipped. The CIARA chamber of soy crushing companies said more than 100 cargo ships have been unable to load during the strike.
“Yesterday there was the beginning of a coming together of bargaining positions, but the demands of the unions are still exaggerated. They want pay increases that would be higher than the inflation rate,” said a CIARA source who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.