July 25, 2018 / 2:32 AM / 3 months ago

Bunge to close Argentine soybean mill, lay off 60 workers -union

BUENOS AIRES, July 24 (Reuters) - A union of employees of soy crushing plants in Argentina said on Tuesday that U.S. grains merchant Bunge Ltd told workers it will shutter a mill at the port of Ramallo in the province of Buenos Aires, laying off 60 workers.

The Workers’ Federation of the Industrial Oilseed Complex, which represents employees at Argentina’s soy crushing plants, said Bunge informed workers about the decision on Monday, though they have not yet formally been dismissed. Argentina is the world’s top soybean oil and meal exporter.

Bunge, the leading global producer of soymeal and soyoil, has been trying to slim down to focus on core areas and improve profitability following a series of poor quarterly results.

“(Bunge) told us yesterday, Monday, that they were going to lay off 60 soybean oil employees,” Carlos Zamboni, the union’s legal advisor said by phone. “They also told us they were going to close the mill, the plant, the whole Ramallo establishment.”

The union plans to protest the lay-offs with a strike that could include different port areas in Argentina, Zamboni said.

Bunge did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Ramallo operations is one of the company’s six industrial port complexes in Argentina, according to the company’s website.

Grain merchants have struggled in recent years as a global oversupply of food commodities has made it tough to turn a profit on their core business: buying, processing, and selling corn, soy and wheat.

International agricultural companies like Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus operate grain mills with their own port terminals in Argentina. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath Writing by Mitra Taj Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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