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A Maersk shipping vessel at the Almirante Storni pier in Puerto Madryn. (Photo: www.appm.com.ar)

Union pressure hampers Patagonian exports

  (ARGENTINA, 7/15/2010)
Since last Friday, the 'warnings' made by the Union of Maritime Workers (SOMU) prevented the normal delivery of fish products from Patagonia to the European Union (EU). 
 
Whilst the institution did not declare a formal strike, the container ships owned by Maersk, Hamburg Sud and Maruba did not send their goods to the EU market, especially shipments of shrimp (Pleoticus muelleri). 
 
According to the information provided by Revista Puerto, until 13 July there were 320 containers owned by fishing companies in Puerto Madryn (Chubut) ready to undertake the journey to Europe. 
 
The companies cannot only not send their goods but also face extra costs due to the tax having to be paid for the permanence of the containers in the pier plaza Almirante Storni and the rental of cold storage facilities to stockpile the containers. 
 
Meanwhile, in Puerto Deseado (Santa Cruz) there are 150 containers of shrimp waiting to be exported, and 50 in the port of Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut). 
 
SOMU maintains its position in negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and clarified in a statement that it does not prevent the departure of exports. 
 
"We would like you to acknowledge that we are not exerting any direct action, this trade organization has not and will never attempt to try and stop Argentine exports, on the contrary we are safeguarding the bestowed rights that are being violated by the business sector against Argentine workers in the fishing industry," reads the statement. 
 
"On 23 May 2009 we signed the so-called social peace treaty with the fishing industry in the province of Chubut and on that occasion the governor, Mario Das Neves, said that his Government would be a companion and that was that," said Ernesto Caridad, the spokesman for SOMU. 
 
"From then on, 14 months have passed and we are still waiting to have communication with Capip, with the members of the former Chamber of Argentine Patagonian shrimpers and the fishing companies. Please note that since 2006 we have seen no increases in wages, and so we seek a restructuring of wages which is fair for the job that we do," he added. 
 
However, it transpired that the Chamber for the Fisheries Industry in Patagonian Argentina (CAPIP) went to the Federal Court of Rawson to ask for exports to be realsed and a sanction on the union. 
 
During last June, SOMU prevented the dispatch of fishery products to the outside world from the port of Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires) for a duration of two weeks, as a means to demand the enforcement of a collective bargaining agreement. 
 
"Specifically, we asked for a restructuring of basic pay for workers on board all fleets. As currently it is not in compliance with the minimum wage for our industry," said the SOMU general secretary, Enrique Omar Suarez, at the time. 
 
Related article:
 
 
 


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Country: Argentina
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