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Argentine soy workers reach deal to end strike

MARCELO MANERA/Contributor/AFP/Getty Images Port of Rosario, Santa Fe province, Argentina, on December 22, 2020
Trucks remain parked as they wait to unload bulk freight at the port of Rosario, Santa Fe province, Argentina, on Dec. 22, 2020, amid a strike of agro-exports unions. The strike began Dec. 9. The workers request a 40% salary rise, while the business chamber accuses the unions of "intransigence" to reach a "reasonable" agreement. The strike, by three different unions, is affecting loading and unloading at 22 cargo terminals.
Nearly three-week-long strike supported soybean prices; the deal with workers includes 35% salary increase in 2020.

By Ignacio Olivera Doll, Isis Almeida and Tatiana Freitas

Argentine soybean workers reached an agreement on wage talks, ending a strike that had snarled shipments and fueled a surge in Chicago futures.

The deal includes a 35% salary increase in 2020, an annual bonus equal to the 2020 salary with the 35% raise, an exceptional bonus for the employees who worked during the lockdowns, and a further 25% adjustment in 2021, according to the exporters chamber Ciara-Cec.

The strike, which had lasted almost three weeks, had fueled supply concerns at a time when China is importing record amounts of the oilseed and dry weather threatens crops in Brazil and Argentina. That sent soybean prices to the highest in six years, with futures rising above $13 a bushel. Soyoil futures also reached the strongest level since 2014, while meal touched a four-year high.

Workers who handle ship mooring will meet Wednesday with the chamber of tugboat owners as they look to reach an agreement, according to a statement sent by port and maritime chamber CAPyM. Tugboat operators are on strike, which is affecting some terminals along the secondary channel in San Lorenzo, according to Guillermo Wade, manager of CAPyM.

Trade unions in Argentina remain strong, a legacy of the Peronist political movement that took back power last year. Wage bargaining across a slew of industries is fierce, with inflation running at 36%. The strike had snarled shipments, with about 151 vessels waiting at the nation’s ports as of Tuesday, according to the union of Argentine Marine Workers, or SOMU.

Ciara-Cec represents crop giants including Bunge Ltd. and Cofco International Ltd.

--With assistance from Cormac Mullen.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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