Argentine soy crush workers to start wage strike late Tuesday

BUENOS AIRES, March 27 (Reuters) - The labor union representing employees of Argentina’s soy crushing plants said it will begin an open-ended wage strike on Tuesday night as negotiations over salaries are complicated by fast-rising consumer prices in the grains producing country.

Argentina is the top exporter of soymeal livestock feed used from Europe to Asia to fatten cows and pigs. It is also to No. 1 exporter of soyoil, used for cooking and in the manufacture of biodiesel. Both soymeal and soyoil are made in crushing plants.

“The strike starts at 10 p.m. (0100 GMT Wednesday),” said Daniel Yofra, general secretary of the Workers’ Federation of the Industrial Oilseed Complex, the labor organization organizing the work stoppage. “We are taking this measure because negotiations with the business chambers are failing.”

The strike will affect the southern part of the Rosario port area, but not the key export hub of San Lorenzo further north, where workers are affiliated with another union.

With yearly inflation running above 25 percent, strikes are common in Argentina as workers grapple with management over pay packages that increase purchasing power. Twelve-month inflation was 25.4 percent in February versus 25 percent the month before.

Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Marguerita Choy