UPDATE 1-Argentine oilseed workers, grains inspectors extend wage strike
(Adds economic context)
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Argentine grains inspectors and oilseed workers extended a wage strike into Wednesday after days of failed contract negotiations with the companies that make up the country's key soymeal export sector.
The Urgara union of grains inspectors and the federation of oilseed workers went on strike last week to demand salary increases sufficient to keep up with the country's high inflation rate.
Consumer prices rose 3.2% in November, down from 3.8% in October. Inflation was 30.9% in the first 11 months of the year, according to official data.
Union heads were scheduled to meet with export company executives to continue the talks later on Wednesday.
The work stoppage threatens to bog down exports from the world's top supplier of soymeal livestock feed used to fatten cattle, hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.
"We have been uninterruptedly exercising the legitimate right to strike for a week now in all ports and agro-export industries in the country," said a joint statement from the federation and Urgara.
Industry representatives say the workers are demanding excessive pay increases.
Both sides in the talks have accused the other of intransigence while the government, in need of export dollars and tax revenue from the agricultural sector, has urged the workers and the companies to hammer out an agreement.
Picketers were blocking entrances to terminals at soymeal factories around the Rosario port hub, from which about 80% of the country's agro-exports flow. Other ports are also affected.
Rosario is located on the Parana River. Scores of cargo ships were docked along the waterway, waiting for the strike to end so loading could resume.
Agricultural products are Argentina's main source of export dollars needed to help keep the country solvent amid a recession exacerbated by COVID-19.
With soy and corn, Argentina's two main cash crops, now being planted, December is not peak export season. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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