Most of the ships waiting to embark in striking Argentine ports are anchored at the mouth of the Río de la Plata.
The agro-export companies announced this Sunday a new salary proposal, after 19 days of unemployment in the ports, with an improvement in the values that bring positions closer to the new hearing called by the Ministry of Labor for next Tuesday 28. Offer includes “35% increase for 2020 and an update based on the cost of living index for 2021.”
They also propose “an additional salary and this year an exceptional bonus of $ 70,000 to those who contributed their daily efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic “. At this last point, the unions had claimed a bonus of $ 70,000 and another for the pandemic of $ 100,000.
According to industry sources, “the bonus of $ 70,000 would be covered with that additional salary that would reach a similar amount, by adjusting the 2020 salary with 35% annual inflation applied to the 2019 salary. the bonus for the pandemic would thus be closer to the first union request, for $ 80,000 that later, when the conflict became more radical, it rose to $ 100,000 ”.
The reference on the update based on the cost of living for the coming year would open another negotiation perspective. Until now, the companies had proposed an increase of 25% in three tranches until July (13% in January, 6% in April and 6% in July) but that staggering in 8 months was rejected by the unions.
Now in the Chamber of the Oil Industry of the Argentine Republic (CIARA) and the Cereal Exporters Center (CEC) they interpret that with the annual bonus equivalent to the last salary collected, 2020 would close with covered inflation and in 2021 purchasing power would not be lost by updating salaries according to the cost of living.
The new proposal was disseminated through social networks, presented with the aim of reaching “an agreement that facilitates the operation efficient, reliable and safe factories and ports preserving Argentine work with added value, without loss of purchasing power of the families that make up the oil community”.
The previous offer of the companies was rejected on Wednesday 23 by the unions, which they extended the strike beyond Christmas, so the stoppage of shipments further exacerbated the delay in the shipment schedules, with more than 130 ships waiting in the harbor to load more than 4.5 million tons of soybeans, by-products, corn and wheat.
CIARA-CEC stated that “this is the highest remuneration in the Argentine private sector. According to him Ministry of Labor, are among the five highest in the country among 255 branches of activity ”.
With the hashtag #NoExportationNoReactivation As an agreement motto, the companies indicated that “through this proposal a strong alliance of workers and companies is invoked to face the urgencies of our country, in order to contribute to work, production and export on a permanent basis and uninterrupted during 2021 “.
They also considered that “this common effort must be the guarantee of social peace. It is not the moment to politicize an advanced negotiation on high wages, but it is the moment to agree on social peace and work ”.
Government’s conciliatory attempt
In a context of granary exports practically paralyzed, which would substantially reduce the income of foreign exchange in this area of activity this month, the main contributor of dollars to the economy, the Government convened for Tuesday the business chambers and the three unions to find a solution to the conflict in the ports.
The meeting will be at the Ministry of Labor. There, the chamber that groups the oil and cereal companies and the unions were summoned (Soea, Urgara and Ftciodyara), who carry out the measure of force by denouncing “the intransigence” of the agro-exporters “who refuse to complete the 2020 salary guideline and give a decent increase for 2021.”
From CIARA-CEC they pointed out that “the industry does not lose US $ 100 million per day, it loses demand from buyer countries. Currency earnings are delayed. The entire agri-food chain suffers from this strike. It is the moment to reach sustainable and reasonable agreements in accordance with the national reality ”.
Tugboats joined the strike
To that situation, the strike of the port maneuvering tugs was added, which paralyzes from Saturday until Monday at 7 in the morning, operations in all ports of the country.
The protest is carried out by the Center for Patrons and Fluvial Officers of Fishing and Maritime Cabotage and the United Maritime Workers Union (SOMU), also for wage claims. In relation to this area of activity, the Ministry of Labor summoned the parties for a hearing on Monday at 11 a.m.
From the Federation of Shipping Companies (FENA) argued that the cessation of activities was generated after “the union request for a change in the remuneration system of this activity (which has been applied for decades) and warned that the measure of force may provoke fuel shortage and “aggravate the isolation of foreign trade.”