The Chamber of Citrus Exporters of the Northeast of Argentina (NEA), Cecnea, expressed its concern about the request for a salary increase of more than 100% for the 2021/2022 period made by certain citrus production workers' union sectors.
“A national emergency was declared for the citrus activity. The closure of the European market in 2020 and the exchange rate delay are two of the main factors that affected the profitability of orange and mandarin exports,” the entity stated. “Europe announced it would reopen its market to our citrus, but their demands are so big that, for commercial purposes, the EU market -the main market for sweet citrus- remains closed to the NEA. Thus, the activity would be unfeasible if we increased salaries by the outrageous percentage that the union requests.”
"It's obvious that what they requested is not in line with other peer companies in the country and far exceeds the increases granted in the NOA citrus industry, even when that region has a significantly higher production that it places in much more profitable markets," Cecnea stated.
“The companies in the sector have agreed to a salary increase that allows its collaborators to recover the purchasing power they have lost to the high inflation rates, but they want to agree on a rational increase that doesn't destroy an activity that employs more than 10,000 people each season,” they added.
"The sector would inevitably paralyze hurting companies and workers if the companies agree to salary increases they can't pay and that are out of touch with the reality of an activity that is undergoing a national emergency," the Chamber of Exporters stated.
Sweet citrus exports had an extremely difficult year in 2020, as the sector shrunk and production dropped due to adverse weather, health issues, and the economic crises it faced that year. “According to estimates, the production in the Litoral, the main producing region of mandarins and oranges, decreased by 40% on average. Mandarin exports remained relatively low. Orange exports started with very good expectations given the strong demand in export markets, but the phytosanitary conflict for lemons also spread to oranges. As a result, shipments to Europe were suspended very early and the sector was unable to export some 20,000 tons.”