SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A union representing about 5,000 autonomous dock workers on Friday called on its members to vote on Monday on whether to hold a strike at Latin America’s largest port over concerns about coronavirus risk.
Rodnei Oliveira da Silva, president of the dock workers union at Brazil’s Santos port, said in a video message posted on social media that the vote will be held in front of the union’s headquarters on Monday. The port is Brazil’s biggest for exports of coffee, sugar, soybeans, corn and cotton.
“The vote will decide whether or not to strike due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Silva said. “The workers are at risk at Latin America’s largest port. Same goes for their families and the community in the Santos area.”
Sopesp, an organization that represents port operators in the state of São Paulo, could not immediately comment on the strike threat.
The Santos port authority, or Codesp, said it does not deal directly with the workers as the organization is responsible only for maintaining the port’s infrastructure, deferring questions to Sopesp. The port authority said over time port operators at Santos have been reducing use of autonomous workers, declining to comment on the impact of any labor action.
Regis Prunzel, Sopesp president, said this week a crisis committee has been created with representatives from all stakeholders at the port and an agreement was reached with the workers to keep port activities going.
Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Will Dunham