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Argentine oilseed and grains exports stalled with new wage strike

Thursday, December 10th 2020 - 09:09 UTC
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Argentine grains inspectors and oilseeds workers started a new wage strike on Wednesday, organizers said in a joint statement, as stalling contract negotiations threatened to interrupt exports from one of the world's main bread baskets.

Argentina, a top global supplier of corn, soybeans and wheat, is prone to work stoppages as employers are hard pressed to increase wages faster than the country's high inflation rate. Argentina is the world's top exporter of soy meal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

“Given the persistent lack of willingness on the part of export companies to reach a wage contract,” a statement from the country's oilseed workers federation said, “the struggle continues.”

Gustavo Idigoras, head of Argentina's CIARA-CEC export companies' chamber, said the labor organizations were asking for excessive salary increases.

“We are still in conflict,” he said and added, “we reiterate that we need to reach a mutual agreement but we need the unions to change their request and to accept that salary increases must be at the same level of inflation during the year”.

The URGARA union, representing workers who inspect grains at port, also issued a statement announcing the strike. “Initially the work stoppage is for 24 hours. We will later evaluate whether to extend it for another 24 hours,” it said.

Argentina's grains sector has been hit by a spate of strikes and contract stand-offs with unions throughout the production and export chain. Corn and soy, the country's main cash crops, are currently being planted. With wheat harvesting just having started, December is not peak export season.

With the local Peso currency weakening, farmers have said they would rather hold onto their crops. They report only as much selling as necessary to pay debts and production costs.

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