BUENOS AIRES, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Activity was halted at three of agricultural trader Cargill Inc's soy processing plants and ports in Argentina on Wednesday after workers went on strike to protest layoffs of around 40 employees, a union representative said.
Sergio Diaz of the SOEAR oilseed crushers union told Reuters the strike was affecting two of Cargill's plants in the grains export hub of Rosario and one in Bahia Blanca. Argentina is the world's No. 3 exporter of raw soybeans and the top global supplier of soybean meal and soybean oil.
"We will continue to assemble outside of the plants. No one is working," Diaz said, adding that the group had a meeting scheduled with Argentina's labor minister scheduled for Thursday.
Cargill's local affiliate said in a statement it was restructuring its Rosario and Bahia Blanca operations and laying off a "limited group" of workers who would later be replaced. It did not mention the work stoppage.
"The aim of this measure is not to eliminate or sub-contract jobs, but rather to ensure the continuity of operations in an effective and efficient matter compatible with the business's new challenges," the statement said.
Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi and Hugh Bronstein; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Andrew Hay