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Brazil port workers strike

Brazil port workers strike
Port workers in Santos, the largest port of South America, and Rio de Janeiro have been on strike since Tuesday to protest a bill, in discussion at the Legislative Assembly in Brasilia, on a reform that would open terminals and new ports to private investments.

Stevedores at the south eastern port of Paranagua, the biggest grain port of the region, made a brief walkout but returned Wednesday to work. At Santos, the job action prevented 14 vessels, of the 35 at berths, to be loaded.

Stevedores are concerned that the bill, known as MP 595, does not protect their' rights and may allow potential new terminal investors to contract non-unionised labour.

The bill MP 595 allows private ports to handle any kind of cargo, opens pre-1993 public port terminal contracts to private tenders, and allows private operators to handle more third party cargo.

According to the federal government, if passed, it would reduce port costs and is a necessary step towards increasing competitiveness and building Brazil's long-term growth. But Congress is divided on the benefits of approving such reform.

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