Protest at Santos paralyses container loading


A strike by dockworkers at Brazil's key shipping port of Santos, the largest in South America, paralysed container loading.

The planned 24-hour strike on Wednesday in protest over the terminal’s hiring practices was called off after six hours with workers continuing their protest as part of a nationwide general strike involving a range of industrial unions yesterday.

Port authorities said the demonstration had paralysed the loading of containers, but mechanized bulk cargo shipments such as soybeans and corn had not been affected. The demonstration held up 13 ships with 22 still loaded according to reports from Reuters.

The Santos port authority did not yet have information on shipments affected by Thursday's stoppage. Local television showed protesters blocking the entrance to Santos, preventing trucks from entering.

Dock workers are afraid a drive to privatise port terminals under legislation passed in May will lead to a loss of jobs and benefits because private operators would not have to hire through the centralized OGMO agency.

They say Embraport, a new $1.2 billion private container terminal at Santos owned by local infrastructure group Odebrecht Transport, the United Arab Emirates' DP World and trading company Coimex, is not hiring through OGMO.

The port strike comes on the heels of a three-day truck driver protest which slowed grain deliveries at major ports last week and a two-day strike holding up 14 ships mostly carrying containers held by Stevedores at Santos in May.

Brazilis currently exporting record soy, corn and sugar crops.

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