April 5, 2018 / 5:13 PM / a year ago

Cargill halts two Argentina grains crushing plants due to strikes

BUENOS AIRES, April 5 (Reuters) - Agricultural trading house Cargill has decided to halt operations at two of its grains crushing plants in Argentina until at least Tuesday because of multiple strikes by workers protesting layoffs, the company said on Thursday.

The strikes have made it unable to guarantee safe conditions at the plants, U.S.-based Cargill Ltd said. The protests started after the company said it would restructure some of its operations in Argentina - the world’s No. 1 exporter of soyoil and meal - and lay off a “limited group” of workers.

“In light of the unplanned strikes occurring frequently and intermittently in various areas of operation, which prevent us from operating in safe conditions, we found ourselves obligated to take this decision,” the company said in a statement.

Cargill said its plant in Villa Gobernador Galvez, part of the key Rosario grains export hub, and a plant in Bahia Blanca would shut through at least April 10, and that workers would not be paid through that date.

The union representing Rosario grains workers said Cargill’s actions were part of a “sinister strategy” to quash the protests and it filed a complaint about the company with Argentina’s Labor Ministry.

“They talk about safety. But it is us who provide safety, and we care about it more than they do,” Sergio Diaz, press secretary of the SOEAR oilseed crushers union, said in an interview. (Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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