Lobby warns of national strike as Argentina’s salary talks end in impasse

A lack of progress in salary negotiations involving oilseed workers and grain receivers could lead to strike action at a national level...

A lack of progress in salary negotiations involving oilseed workers and grain receivers could lead to a nationwide strike, putting the country’s grain export program at risk, the local oilseed crushing and exporters chamber Ciara-CEC has said in a statement.

Salary negotiations involving the crushers’ union federation FTCIOD, the San Lorenzo Oil Workers Union (SOEA) and the grain receivers union Urgara are stalled due to excessive claims, the group said, and come against the backdrop of a pandemic.

Distorted sales flows, volatile prices, restrictive regulations for the movement of trucks, trains, and ships at an international level have generated “enormous damages for agro-exporters,” the chamber said.

“The low water levels of the Paraná River added an additional unforeseen factor that caused, for several months, incremental costs of ship loading, delays, strandings and price penalties for Argentine products,” the chamber added.

Ciara-CEC also highlighted that the industry has already agreed to a 25% salary increase at the beginning of the pandemic, which could be revised higher should the government’s own inflation measures exceed that percentage.

Unions at the time accepted that caveat, but put new demands on the table when mid-year reviews opened, with the industry body accusing the unions of presenting unrealistic inflation data and mounting requests for special bonuses.

The chamber also warned that, as mandatory conciliations ordered by the Labor Ministry expire, unions are already taking steps that could lead to a national strike.

According to Argentine law, after a 15-day mandatory conciliation period, unions can launch strike action if a labor agreement was not reached during the process.

Grain receivers have been carrying out sudden local strike actions over the course of the last week, bringing delays to grain terminals operated by ACA, AMD and Louis Dreyfus among others.

Rail blockades

In related news, a group of lorry drivers in Colon, Buenos Aires Province, also blocked the freight railway line of Nuevo Central Argentino (NCA) during a four-day period in a conflict with Cargill, which operates a grain facility in the area.

According to local press reports, Cargill intended to use the rail to transport grain to Rosario, but that lorry drivers from a local freight transport confederation opposed the move, arguing that the transportation of the grain should be carried out by local lorry drivers.

Following negotiations with Cargill, the parties reached an agreement to transport the grain by local lorry drivers.

Cargill’s spokesperson was not available when contacted by Agricensus.

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