Market News & Headlines >> Strike Paralyzes Argentine Grain Exports

A nearly two-week old wage strike by grains inspectors and oilseed workers in Argentina continued to paralyze that key exporting country’s grain and soy exports on Tuesday. 

The strike started on Dec. 9 by the Argentine oilseed workers federation, the Urgara union representing port-side grains inspectors and the SOEA soy crushing workers union, based in the northern part of Argentina's main grains hub of Rosario, which ships about 80% of Argentina's farm exports. 

"The strike continues without any expectation that negotiations will restart over the short term. We have more than 100 vessels waiting to be loaded," Gustavo Idigoras, head of Argentina's CIARA-CEC export companies chamber, told Reuters News Service. Contract talks between workers and export companies have broken down over compensation packages, with both sides accusing the other of intransigence. 

Urgara negotiates with the Private Commercial Ports Chamber, or CPPC, while the federation and SOEA negotiate with CIARA. Urgara spokesman Juan Carlos Peralta told Reuters that Urgara had struck individual deals with some export companies but that stark differences remained in negotiating positions and that a comprehensive deal was far off. 

SOEA issued a strongly worded statement on Monday afternoon saying its members voted to extend the strike for at least another 24 hours. 

With soymeal and soyoil production idled by the strike, no trucks hauling soybeans entered Rosario terminals on Monday versus 1,088 cargos that were unloaded on Dec. 21, 2019, according to Rosario Grains Exchange data. Nor were there any soy trucks unloaded at Rosario last week due to the work stoppage. 

Brazilian wheat millers have expressed concerns that the strikes in Argentina could disrupt their operations if they continue into January, since Argentina is Brazil’s top source for wheat imports. "At this time of the year few buy wheat," Rubens Barbosa, president of wheat millers association Abratrigo, told Reuters by telephone on Monday. "But if the strike doesn't end, some will face limited supplies."