Second Strike Again Stops Ship Movements in Argentina’s Ag Port
Following through on their announcement from last week, dockworkers and maritime unions in Argentina’s key agricultural port again went on strike demanding to be given access to COVID-19 vaccinations. The dockworkers supported by 10 other unions, including tugboat captains and harbor pilots, are conducting a 48-hour strike that began on Wednesday, May 26.
Last week’s strike stranded seven ships fully loaded at the dock and 13 more ships that were loading in the port of Rosario, which accounts for more than three-quarters of Argentina’s exports including soybeans and corn. The strike comes as the country continues to struggle with the COVID-19 virus, but also as the agricultural industry is in a peak period for exports. Argentine officials had reportedly been issuing port clearances trying to get vessels out of the port before the unions renewed their action today.
Reuters is reporting that the manager of Argentina's Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities Guillermo Wade said that vessels in port were being permitted to load today. However, ships were unable to dock or sail due to the strike.
The large labor union Urgara continues to complain about a lack of action by the state authorities to recognize the dangers and vital role the dockworkers and port employees are playing during the pandemic. The labor federation FeMPINRA is complaining that the government is not giving them answers while promising that the union members would be given priority for the vaccine. FeMPINRA highlighted that members continued to get sick and die without a good plan from the government.
Argentina’s COVID-19 cases have been rising rapidly since late March when the weekly average was under 10,000 cases. Last week, Argentina reported a seven-day average of over 30,000 cases, although the daily cases slipped slightly recently but remain at nearly 25,000 per day. In the port city of Rosario, the hospital said this week that its ICU is full and that it can not take in any new patients at this time.
The union has promised to limit this week’s strike to 48 hours. So far, they have not announced if they are planning a third strike. Last week they warned that they would continue to stage strikes until the government addressed the urgent needs for vaccinations so that their members could continue to maintain the country’s vital trade.