On 29 December 2016, following a request from the Argentinian Union of Rural Workers and Stevedores (UATRE), the National Agricultural Work Commission (CNTA) set a minimum of 25 kilos harvested per wage as part of the working conditions for blueberry harvesters. This has been severely criticised by the various producer associations. "The entire blueberry sector shares the same view: one of absolute rejection, concern and confusion about this latest resolution," stated Carla Ginobili, of the Argentinian Blueberry Committee (ABC).
It is worth stressing that this measure is incompatible with another resolution officially published a day earlier, on 28 December 2016, by another national agency, AFIP. This one had established the equivalent of 40 kilos harvested as a Minimum Indicator of Work (IMT) for the production and packaging of blueberries. This indicator was determined based on research from INTA carried out at its Concordia and Obispo Colombres de Tucumán stations, and taking into account the private sector's position.
"The negotiation of the CNTA did not consult with the private sector, whereas the one of the AFIP is much more accurate for the three productive regions, where in fact the average stands at 40 kilos. For several months, we have worked together with the public authorities and the private sector, but now, with this new legislation, our 2017 campaign could be affected. Luckily, we have 7 months left before the next campaign starts," highlighted Ginobili.
"The exclusion of the private sector has caused a lot of displeasure, especially after such a tough campaign, because if the wage is fixed at 25 kilos, salary costs would increase significantly; something that the sector cannot handle after the damage suffered during the 2016 campaign. In any case, we are convinced of the commitment that the Government has been showing in recent years to support the productive and export economies," concluded the representative.