* Workers object to hiring practices at private terminals
* Ports brace for nationwide union demonstrations Thursday
SAO PAULO, July 10 Dock workers at Brazil's key
shipping port of Santos, the largest in South America, stopped a
strike over port reform early on Wednesday but plan to walk off
the job again on Thursday in support of a broader union protest.
Port authorities said Wednesday's strike prevented the
loading of some 13 container ships for a few hours, but
mechanized bulk cargo shipments, such as soybeans and corn, were
The National Stevedores Association in Brasilia said workers
at other ports had decided against a July 10 strike and would
instead join other industrial unions planning a nationwide
walkout on Thursday, July 11.
Dock workers are afraid a drive to privatize port terminals
under legislation passed in May will lead to a loss of jobs and
benefits because private operators would not have to hire
through the centralized agency known as OGMO.
They say Embraport, a new $1.2 billion private container
terminal at Santos owned by local infrastructure group Odebrecht
Transport, the United Arab Emirates' DP World and
trading company Coimex, is not hiring through OGMO.
The port strike comes on the heels of a protest by truck
drivers that slowed grain deliveries at major ports last week
and diverse nationwide demonstrations in June that drew over 1
million protesters at their peak.
Brazil is currently exporting record soy, corn and sugar
crops. Stevedores at Santos last held a two-day strike in May.
Typically, bulk cargo such as grains are less affected by
labor stoppages because they require fewer workers. The movement
of container goods with perishables such as coffee, bagged sugar
and meats are more vulnerable.