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Friday, 26 May 2017

Brazilian ports come to standstill as strike bites

The Brazilian port system is almost at a standstill this week as a strike by the tax auditors of the Receita Federal (or Customs Office department) bites hard having begun last Wednesday (May 17).

Santos, the country's leading port has suffered the worst, but the effects have been felt from the port of Rio Grande, on the border with Uruguay, and at the land frontier of Uruguiana, on the border with Argentina, all the way up to northern ports such as Fortaleza and Belem.
Sindifisco, the National Union of Tax Auditors, called for the strike action as it strives to pressure the beleaguered government of Michel Temer into halting the progress of his legislation that will reduce pension pots and raise the retirement age.

At Santos it is estimated that around 6,000 containers are awaiting for inspection, according to Sindifisco, which says its members are checking and releasing certain cargoes which are exempt from the strike action: these include live animals, dangerous cargoes, drugs, perishables, funeral urns and shipboard supplies.
In Uruguiana close to 1,000 trucks are waiting for clearance to cross the Argentina- Brazil border.

Renato Tavares, the president of Sindifisco in Santos said that his members had agreed to a nationwide strike earlier this week and claimed that each day of a stoppage will see the delay of at least 1,000 containers in Santos.
He added: "What would normally be released in a day, will now take three, four or even five days to be released, and this will generate a backlog and an accumulation of containers for release.""
Jose Roque, the executive director of Sindamar, told PFI that SIndifisco might try and drag the strike out until June 1, when Medida Provisoria [Provisional Measure] 765/2016 – carrying Temer's aanti union legislation - expires if it does not become a permanent law.

Roque, who used to work for Hamburg Sud before taking on the post at Sindamar, said that the constant strikes this year from customs officers were damaging the international reputation of Brazil at a time when the country was trying to boost the economy with more inward investment and more exports.
Sindifisco has pushed its members into strike action at Santos six times over the past year, and on April 28 there was a General Strike in Brazil that saw Rio de Janeiro and Santos container operations halted for 24 hours.

"As the Auditores bring Santos to a standstill, the strike will also directly affect the clearance of import cargoes, release of cargo in transit, causing several ships to lose connection to ports abroad," Roque told local media, "and it will cause the terminals to have their storage capacity reduced, which could interfere with the ships' operations throughout this week."

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