Argentine topfruit exporters are preparing for major disruption after customs unions and workers plant health service Senasa announced separate strikes this week.
Customs worker union Supara announced last week that its members would stage two walkouts, the first beginning this Friday and running till Sunday and the second from 16-19 July, in a dispute over pay.
Meanwhile, the Association of State Workers (ATE), whose members are employed by Senasa, called an immediate strike from Monday, 6 July that is due to run until 16 July after the government refused its demands of a 40 per cent pay hike for its members. Yesterday, ATE-Senasa rejected an attempt by the government to impose obligatory arbitration.
The strikes come at a critical time for apple and pear exporters who are already under considerable pressure due to the unfavourable exchange rate, inflation and weak demand in key markets. Local media reports than an estimated 200,000 tonnes of topfruit is being left unharvested in the Alto Valle of Río Negro due to the economic crisis.
The Argentine Chamber of Integrated Fruit Producers (CAFI) condemned the action. “Exports are already virtually paralysed and all these strikes do is aggravate an already dire situation for the apple and pear industry,” the association said. “Shipments are down 120,000 tonnes this season and for each day that passes another 1,500 tonnes of exports are lost and these cannot be recuperated.”