Strike paralyses shipments at Buenos Aires port


Buenos Aires : Container shipments are paralysed in the port of Buenos Aires due to a union conflict that is causing huge losses, the Argentine press reported.

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The labour dispute pits the SUPA union, which represents the longshoremen, against the crane operators union, which has been paralysing the cargo terminals of the Argentine capital since last Friday, industry representatives said.

The labour ministry ordered mandatory mediation, but the longshoremen did not comply with that directive and decided to stage a full strike which caused operating difficulties for at least 17 vessels that were supposed to offload their cargo in Montevideo.

Industry representatives told the La Nacion newspaper that the conflict has resulted so far in at least $1.25 million in operating losses.

Some of the cargo ships opted to cut short their stopovers in Buenos Aires, while three others cancelled their stops in the Argentine capital, thus preventing the offloading of 2,700 containers carrying $82 million in assorted merchandise.

SUPA, which is demanding a pay hike and union benefits already possessed by the crane operators union, also announced that it will stage a national strike at cargo terminals Tuesday.

“It’s disastrous to see the damage it does to the country when foreign trade is completely halted by a fight between unions. On top of that, they are not adhering to the obligatory conciliation and are completely ignoring the Labor Ministry,” said a spokesman for Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Co., which has two vessels docked at the port.