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Argentina ports open bids for dockworker contracts in defeat for union

Argentina’s port industry group has invited six organizations to compete for dockworker contracts at the Rosario grains export hub, as the government seeks to cut costs in the heavily unionized sector, the group’s leader told Reuters.

President Mauricio Macri’s government this week forced the United Port Workers’ Union to open up loading and unloading contracts to competitive bidding, part of his broader effort to confront the country’s powerful unions and lower business costs.

Rosario is the dispatch point for soy, corn and wheat produced in Argentina’s vast Pampas farm belt. The country is the world’s top exporter of soymeal livestock feed, as well as a major supplier of corn, wheat and raw soybeans.

Five local companies were invited to compete for the contracts at two ports, said Martin Brindici, general manager of the Chamber of Private Commercial Ports (CPPC). They are Murchison, Brayco, Milisenda, Port Side Maritime, and Servicios y Asesoramiento Portuario SRL.

A port workers’ cooperative closely tied to the union was also invited to bid.

Competitive bidding could reduce stevedore rates by up to 30 percent, Brindici said. The CPPC includes major grain traders and processors like Cargill and Bunge Ltd.

Companies will have until Oct. 6 to present bids, and the winner could start work by the end of the year, Brindici said.

The Buenos Aires grains exchange said on Wednesday that it expects the combined harvests of soy and corn in the 2017/18 crop year to reach 95 million tonnes, most of which will be shipped from ports in the Rosario area.

Source: Reuters

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