An estimated one thousand workers resumed Monday their jobs at the controversial Botnia-Orion pulp mill under construction in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, following the accidental death of a worker last week at the plant.
Fernando Paredes, head of the local branch of the construction workers union said that full activities will actually begin Tuesday since Monday was dedicated to clearing and preparing the site. However at union headquarters in Montevideo it was announced that Tuesday morning all activities will cease between 09:00 and 13:00 hours, and a further mobilization is scheduled for sometime between April 17 and May first. Apparently the construction workers union will previously assess the results of a meeting scheduled for April 16 with Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez in Montevideo, who has promised to listen to their demands. According to the union the five days stoppage at the plant Finland's Botnia is constructing in Fray Bentos was organized to demand improved work safety and security conditions, following the death last April 3 of a Chilean worker, belonging to a subcontractor. Union leaders also complained that an inquiry team from the Uruguayan Ministry of Labor and Social Security was unable to advance with the accident investigation because "the site where the tragedy occurred had been washed and evidence removed". They also claim they have repeatedly warned about poor safety conditions in some areas of the construction site. Meantime across the river in Gualeguaychú, Argentina, pickets that have been protesting for months the construction of the pulp mill claiming pollution and irreparable damage to the environment, decided not to lift the blockage of the bridge access leading to Uruguay. Three bridges link Argentina with Uruguay across the shared river Uruguay and last week --a several days break in both countries in coincidence with Easter festivities--, pickets managed to cut off all land crossings during eight days. However on Sunday two of the links, at Colon and Concordia, as anticipated were reopened but not Gualeguaychu. Gualeguaychu picketers' leader Alfredo de Angelis also announced that next April 29, Argentine protestors will march to the middle of the bi-national San Martin bridge to embrace "our Uruguayan brothers who also repudiate the construction of the Botnia pulp mill that will spoil and ruin the shared environment unless it's relocated".