UPDATE 1-Unions slow activity in Argentina with general strike

Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:36pm EDT

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(Adds details of Rosario work stoppage)

BUENOS AIRES, April 10 (Reuters) - Labor groups in Argentina went on a 24-hour general strike on Thursday to protest high inflation and other conditions affecting workers, slowing business activity and bringing the Rosario grain export hub to a near standstill.

Workers in the South American grain exporting powerhouse are negotiating wage increases in line with inflation estimated at more than 30 percent.

The strike comes at the height of Argentine soybean harvesting. The country is the world's No. 3 supplier of soybeans, as well as the top exporter of soymeal animal feed and soyoil, used to make biofuels.

The work stoppage was called by the powerful CGT labor organization, which represents key workers such as truck drivers and port workers. Bus drivers and other transportation workers have also joined the 24-hour protest, slowing activity in urban centers like Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Cordoba.

Grain traffic at the country's main port of Rosario has also been slowed since April 5 by a conflict between unions representing workers in charge of docking incoming cargo ships.

The main labor group representing the workers is on strike in a show of force after losing members to a rival union.

About 80 percent of Argentine grains and oilseeds leave from Rosario, located on the Parana River. Unionized workers are needed to manage the entrance and exit of each ship from the constellation of ports that make up the Rosario hub. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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