Argentine port workers announced that they will go on strike for 48 hours after paralyzing the country’s agricultural exports last week with a first work stoppage over the demand to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Cargo traffic at the Rosario port hub, from which about 80% of the country’s grain exports are shipped, was disrupted by last week’s strike by tugboat captains and other port maritime workers. A group of 11 unions issued a statement announcing the new strike.
They are asking to be designated as essential workers, entitled to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. So far, 75,056 people have died from the virus in Argentina, as the country is hit by a second wave of infections.
Argentina is under a nighttime curfew as the government intensifies its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Unions said the new strike was called “in the face of the exponential increase in cases, the regrettable loss of several colleagues and the failure of all negotiations we have held with national authorities.”
The only labor groups given priority in vaccines in Argentina have so far been health workers, police and educators.
The country is the world’s third-largest supplier of corn and the leading exporter of soybean feed used to fatten pigs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.
Last week’s strike left seven cargo ships stranded at their moorings in Rosario, due to falling water levels in the Paraná River, until they could be towed out of the port. The last of the seven vessels was towed out of Rosario early Tuesday morning.
The strikes come at the height of the export season. Argentine farmers are harvesting soybeans and corn, the country’s two main cash crops.