Chile port strike resumes

Chile port strike

Dockers in Chile ended a 3-week strike that inflicted over $100 million (US) in damages to both the lucrative agricultural export sector -- at a crucial harvest time -- and the world's largest copper industry.

The strikers, according to spokesperson Sergio Vargas, will return to work tomorrow (Sunday) after the bosses agreed to make a one-time retroactive payment for unpaid meal breaks going back to 2005.

The agitation began in late December at the northern port of Angamos over demands for organizing rights, but then spread with solidarity strikes and protests at several other ports over what fellow port workers saw as brutal police treatment of the strikers.

Workers at the copper-exporting ports of Antofagasta and Iquique joined the strike, as well as agricultural ports in southern Chile. It hit the export of grapes, apples and berries in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere summer harvest season. Estimates put the damage to all export industries at over $100 million (US).

After another 3-week strike in 2013, the workers have maintained a high level of militancy. "It was a long fight for dock workers in Chile. It's a great victory," said Vargas. But he also said the strike would not officially end until the port operators also signed the agreement.

Here's a report from Reuters about the ports affected by the strike:

Reuters wrote:
ANTOFAGASTA, Antofagasta region, northern Chile:

Union workers at Antofagasta went on strike on Jan. 6. In 2012, they exported 1.1 million tonnes of copper cathodes and 235,433 tonnes of copper concentrate. The port shipped out $9.2 billion worth of copper and iron ore last year.

IQUIQUE, Tarapaca region, northern Chile:

Union workers at Iquique went on strike on Jan. 6. They exported 166,342 tonnes of copper in the January to November period. The port shipped out $1.2 billion worth of copper and iron ore last year.

SAN ANTONIO, Valparaiso region, central Chile

Union workers at the key fruit-exporting port of San Antonio went on strike on Jan. 4 to ask for a retroactive lunch subsidy they say the government promised them. They exported 258 tonnes of copper in the January to September period. Last year, the port shipped out $1.8 billion in foodstuffs.

BIO BIO PORTS, Bio Bio region, southern Chile

The ports in the Bio Bio region dropped their strike earlier this month after signs of a deal. However, they launched a fresh labor action last week in protest over police involvement in the port stoppage. Bio Bio ports do not handle copper, but export products from Chile's south, which is more focused on agriculture, forestry and fishing.

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Supply Chain Re...
Jan 26 2014 09:01


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Supply Chain Re...
Jan 29 2014 06:08

UPDATE 28 January 2014

Claiming management was acting in "bad faith" and were imposing new work conditions, dockers at the Port of San Antonio resumed striking yesterday. About 1,500 dockers stopped work at one of Chile's busiest export terminals. Already this year, blueberry, nectarine and peach exports to North America are down considerably. Representatives of Chile's agricultural export sector estimate that the 23 days of strikes have cost the industry $1 billion (U.S.), which is questionable yet the strike hit them at harvest time when they are most vulnerable.

Click here for a news story from The Packer, a produce industry trade journal.

Jan 29 2014 15:35
Supply Chain Re...
Jan 30 2014 01:56

According the The Packer, the dockers are back at work (as of today, Wednesday 29 January 2014).