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Workers set to push ahead with strike at major Argentina grains port

[BUENOS AIRES] Workers at the Rosario grains export hub in Argentina will go ahead with plans to start a strike on Friday to demand higher salaries, a union leader said late on Thursday.

Reuters has seen a copy of a letter written by the country's labor ministry asking workers at the port, the largest in one of the world's top grains producers, to call off the strike.

However, Edgardo Quiroga of the local San Lorenzo branch of the CGT union said the group had not heard from the government and would begin striking for an indefinite period from Friday.

"We still haven't received anything. The strike will start at midnight and tomorrow we will hold an assembly meeting," Mr Quiroga said, adding that the situation could change after discussions during the union meeting.

Rosario handles about 80 per cent of Argentina's grains exports. San Lorenzo covers the northern districts of the Rosario hub where multinational companies like Bunge Ltd, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV have crushing plants and ports.

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The CGT counts quality control inspectors and dock workers among its members in Rosario.

According to Quiroga, the union is seeking a 45-per cent increase in the minimum regional wage, to 20,015 Argentine pesos (S$1,938) per month.

Wage negotiations are tough in Argentina because of soaring inflation.

Argentina's government is targeting an inflation rate no higher than 25 per cent this year. Private economists expect consumer prices will rise 35 per cent this year.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of soymeal livestock feed and the third-biggest exporter of raw soybeans, the fourth biggest provider of corn and a leading wheat supplier.


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