Fruit associations call for rapid resolution of dispute to keep fruit exports flowing

Chile Valparaiso

A decision by Chile’s port worker unions UPC to call a national strike this week has been met with concern by fruit exporters.

Some 6,000 workers from 26 ports in the country are staging the walk-out after accusing the government of not fulfilling promises regarding labour and safety. The strike will take place in three shifts starting at 8:00am on Thursday, 4 April.

Frutas de Chile and Chilean fruit federation Fedefruta both issue statements stressing the importance of keeping exports flowing and calling for dialogue between the parties to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.

“Chile is a country with an export tradition, therefore, any problem that affects the normal functioning at any point in the chain,” Frutas de Chile said. “Logistics, especially ports, threatens our country’s shipments to the world.”

José Valenzuela, president of Fedefruta, commented: “We have lived these experiences in the past, and the meeting points between port workers and authorities must occur consistently over time, to anticipate these problems from breaking out.

Valenzuela noted that the 2023/24 fruit season had been generally positive, and that the port strike would be bad news for the last third of the season.

“Producers are working on the kiwifruit and apple harvests, the latter hit by the cost and logistics problems that have been dragging on since the pandemic. In addition, we are in the weeks of shipping table grapes from the Metropolitan and O’Higgins regions. We hope that, in instances like this, the chain is working without obstacles,” he said.

“We make ourselves available to collaborate on a solution, but we believe that outdated pressure measures will not bring the parties to the table. In the past, we have faced similar situations. It is crucial that meetings between port workers and authorities be held.”