Argentina: Officials look to resolve protest blocking grain exports

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ozzmancometh53
© GettyImages/ozzmancometh53

Related tags Cargill Louis Dreyfus strikes Soybean meal Argentina

Officials in Argentina’s Sante Fe providence have ordered mandatory talks between protesting port workers and companies to try and end a ports blockage that is preventing grain shipments, writes The Rio Times.

Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soybean meal and a major international soybean, wheat and corn supplier.

Protests by construction port workers in Rosario, the country’s main grain center, have disrupted shipments, placing roadblocks to prevent access to some of the region’s main export terminals.

“We have to comply with the order and continue with negotiations, which will take some time,”​ Cristian Diaz, a UOCRA union official in San Lorenzo, in Santa Fe province, told Reuters.

Agribusiness giants, Cargill, Nidera, and Louis Dreyfus, have processing plants and ports in the regions hit by the protests.

Protests began on Tuesday night, July 6. Over the next day, it spread to the districts of Puerto General San Martin and Timbués, north of Rosario, affecting shipments from Argentina.

Workers represented by the UOCRA union demand that construction companies serving agro-export companies pay higher wages at the port facilities, according to Reuters.

COVID-19 related strikes  

Argentina has been beset by oilseed, transport, port and custom worker stoppages over the past year.

In January, truckers in Argentina protested and blocked roads over increased fuel prices, taxes and highway tolls.

That protest followed a 20-day strike by the country's oilseed workers, who were demanding wage increases, particularly for those who continued to work through the height of the coronavirus pandemic. A deal was eventually struck between the oilseed workers unions and soy crushing companies that ended the work stoppage. 

Last month, grains shipments and other exports were also disrupted due to a strike by customs workers seeking priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, while in late May, port workers halted exports, also in protest over vaccine distribution.

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