RPT-UPDATE 3-Union ends Argentine soy crushers’ strike

(Repeats to fix link to graphic)

* Union says wage deal put end to strike

* Business chamber says accord could be signed on Monday

* Protest hit over half of Rosario’s crushing capacity

* South American country is top soyoil, meal exporter
(Updates with business chamber comments)

By Jorge Otaola and Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 23 (BestGrowthStock) – Argentine soy-crushing
workers ended a strike in the key Rosario ports area after
reaching a wage accord with companies, allowing halted plants
to restart operations, a union leader said on Thursday.

The two-day protest disrupted crushing in the world’s No. 1
soyoil and meal supplier and helped lift U.S. soyoil futures.

Major exporters such as Cargill [CARG.UL], Louis Dreyfus
and Bunge (BG.N: ) own plants near Rosario, an area that accounts
for about 80 percent of Argentine soybean oil and meal output.

“We reached an agreement. We achieved what we’d been
seeking,” said Pablo Reguera, secretary-general of the San
Lorenzo oil workers union, based in one of the major ports
outside Rosario.

“The blockades are being cleared. I think by afternoon
(crushing plants) will be operating normally,” he added.

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Graphic on soy crushing industry:

http://link.reuters.com/ket72p

Factbox on crushing capacity: [ID:nN2276658]

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Union leaders, company representatives and government
officials met on Wednesday to hash out a deal, and the talks
lasted late into the night.

Reguera said the two sides agreed to a 25 percent wage
increase for workers and a one-time bonus of 4,200 pesos
($1,030). The union had been pushing for a bonus of 5,000
pesos.

But Alberto Rodriguez, head of the CIARA business chamber,
said no agreement had been reached and companies were still
evaluating a solution proposed by the Labor Ministry ahead of a
Monday meeting. He declined to give further details.

“There’s another meeting on Monday and we’ll see what
happens there. We are studying the ministry’s proposal,”
Rodriguez said, adding that workers had lifted some pickets in
the Rosario area.

Another union official, Daniel Succi, said an accord had
been signed but it needed to be ratified on Monday, in line
with standard procedure.

Union and industry sources in Rosario had said the strike
was affecting half of the area’s soy-processing capacity, but
some plants continued operating because not all workers
belonged to Reguera’s union, which spearheaded the protest.

The strike also hurt production at plants owned by
Argentine companies Molinos Rio de la Plata (MOL.BA: ) and
Vicentin.

The brief labor protest was not expected to affect exports
to important markets, including China, India and the European
Union.

Soy-crushing in Argentina rose 33.7 percent in November
from a year earlier to 3.14 million tonnes, thanks to a record
harvest of 52.7 million tonnes during the 2009/10 crop year.

A total of 34.1 million tonnes of soybeans were processed
from January through November, according to the latest
Agriculture Ministry data.

Farmers in the world’s No. 3 soybean exporter are currently
planting 2010/11 soybeans, but concerns are rising that dryness
linked to La Nina could hurt production.
($1 = 4.075 Argentine pesos)
(Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Padraic Cassidy, Jim
Marshall and Lisa Shumaker)

RPT-UPDATE 3-Union ends Argentine soy crushers’ strike