Argentine oil crushing industry workers reached over the weekend a much disputed salary agreement, ending a 26 day strike, and hopefully resuming activities which have paralyzed the Rosario cereals and oilseeds stock market and forced a queue of over 140 vessels and barges along the Paraná river.
Daniel Yofra, head of the oil crushing workers union said that the accord reached was 'correct' after a very long negotiation and that is why we ended the strike in the ports and activities are resuming.
In the final round of negotiations in Buenos Aires, Argentina's Minister of Labor Carlos Tomada and the all powerful Minister of Economy Axel Kicillof participated of the discussions. Argentina is the world's leading exporter of soybean flour and oil.
Yoffra revealed that the union represents 20.000 workers throughout Argentina and the new scale of salaries applies from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, and represents a basic increase of 27.8%. Argentina is only second to Venezuela in inflation and this year the rate is expected to be in the higher half of the twenties.
According to Yoffra the final agreement also contemplates an 'attendance' clause which means those workers who don't miss a single work day could see the percentage climb to the original 36% demanded in the negotiations. The original 36% was repeatedly rejected by the Argentine government which has put a cap of 27%/28% to annual salary agreements for the current round of negotiations.
”The (cooking) oil industry is satisfied because this enables us to normalize activity and avoid what was seen as a budding scarcity of certain goods in Argentine supermarkets”, said Andres Alcaraz, spokesperson for the Oil Crushers Chamber.
This way and after an almost full month of negotiations the conflict has been resolved. This means the Rosario grains and oilseeds stock market will be again operational from Monday particularly significant since the new Argentine soy crop was waiting to reach market.
Likewise tens of barges form up Parana river waiting to unload as well as dozens of cargo vessels expecting to load for overseas, have begun to move, with full activities expected to normalize in a couple of weeks.
Rosario, Argentina's second largest city, on the Paraná river is also one of the world's leading hubs for trading and shipping oilseeds and cereals.
Basic salaries for workers in the oilseed crushing sectors will now start at 13,420 Pesos (approx 1.100 dollars) after the 27.8% increase, but the additional funds to be negotiated in the next few days will take starting salaries to about 14,300 Pesos, roughly a 36% boost from the current wages.
Workers have claimed that for every 1,000 Pesos in sales the largest agribusiness exporters spend between five and 18 Pesos in salaries.