Workers' strike hits grain shipments from Argentine river ports hub


Adds port and union officials' comments, paragraphs 4-6

BUENOS AIRES, July 31 (Reuters) - A strike by grain inspectors calling for higher wages has affected shipments at river ports in the Argentine transport hub of Rosario, the local chamber of Port and Maritime Activities (CAPyM) said.

The strike started at midnight local time (0300 GMT) and a representative for the workers' union URGARA said there was no immediate decision on whether to extend it or not.

The URGARA union is an association of grain technicians who analyze grains held in storehouses and loaded on ships, playing a major role in the South American nation's vital grain trade.

URGARA workers are in pay negotiations with the companies grain buyers contract to control the quality of shipments, union official Juan Carlos Peralta said.

Workers went on strike without giving an official notice, CAPyM official Guillermo Wade said.

"It is affecting all barge unloading and ship loading operations, everything involving control companies," Wade said.

Argentina is the world's leading exporter of soybean oil and meal and the third-largest exporter of corn, as well as an important global wheat producer.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Brendan O'Boyle and Grant McCool)

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