Argentine oilseed crushers, union set to meet again amid strike threat - chamber

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Argentina's oilseed crushers and exporting firms are set to meet again with a key worker union in a bid to reach a deal over coronavirus pandemic bonus payments and head off the threat of strike action in the world's top supplier of processed soy.

Gustavo Idígoras, the head of the CIARA-CEC chambers representing grains processors and exporters, told Reuters that there would be a new meeting "next week" with representatives of the labor group, known by its Spanish acronym SOEA.

The union, which carried out a 24-hour strike last week, on Wednesday flagged possible further action after a proposed COVID-19 bonus payment fell short of expectations.

The union, which represents workers in the key grains hub of San Lorenzo in Santa Fe province, said companies had offered workers a single bonus of about 11,000 pesos ($140.72), far short of the 70,000 pesos demanded by the union.

"The request for a bonus that the union wants is absolutely out of context of the reality of both the industry and of Argentina," Idígoras said on Thursday, underscoring how the two sides remain far apart.

An SOEA official told Reuters that it "could" get together again with company representatives but that it would make the final decision on that at a delegates meeting on Friday.

The strike action has not yet substantially affected shipments, but a longer standoff could slow traffic from the world's top exporter of soymeal livestock feed used to fatten cattle, hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

Argentina's government, desperate for export dollars to help the country recover from recession, is keen to keep the key soymeal and soyoil industry on its feet. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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