Chilean port workers reach deal to end strike, fruit exports to resume

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SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Workers at Chile’s flagship port of Valparaiso said on Friday that they had reached a deal to put an end to a strike that had complicated fruit exports at the start of the austral summer.

The workers first walked off the job in mid-November, demanding that Terminal Pacifico Sur (TPS), the company that operates the docks, provide them with a bonus, more formal contracts and improved working conditions.

TPS representatives were not immediately available for comment.

“We reached a deal after discussing with the port operator ... once we have signed it, with all the key points accounted for, we’ll return to work,” Pablo Klimpel, of Chile’s Port Union, told reporters. Klimpel said he expected workers to return to the port within hours.

The strike had caused fruit exports from Valparaiso to fall by 95 percent from the same period last year, according to statistics from Chile’s Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta).

Valparaiso’s port handles approximately 55 percent of Chile’s fruit exports, including blueberries, nectarines, cherries, apples, kiwis and pears, according to the Chilean Blueberry Committee.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; editing by Grant McCool