UPDATE 1-Argentine authorities step in to end soy workers strike

(Recasts with end of strike)

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Argentine authorities on Wednesday ended a less-than-24-hour wage strike by the Federation of Oilseeds Workers that had temporarily halted local soy processing at plants owned by major shippers Cargill, Bunge , Glencore and Dreyfus.

The Labor Ministry ordered the union back to work, with the government set to sit down with company and workers’ representatives next week, the federation said in a statement.

“The measure dictated by the Labor Ministry ended the strike at 1 p.m. (1600 GMT) today and the holding of a hearing on October 20,” the union said in a statement. The work stoppage, affecting some parts of Argentina’s key grains hub of Rosario, began at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

The government often steps in to end strikes and force negotiations when work stoppages affect vital national industries. Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs, cattle and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

The strike came as the country, suffering from a recession and a debt crunch, desperately needs export dollars to help replenish central bank reserves strained by a dollar-selling campaign designed to prop up the swooning local peso.

The government this month reduced export taxes in a bid to spur selling of soybeans, the country’s main cash crop, and bolster trade. But farmers have said they will keep hoarding crops due to foreign exchange uncertainty.

The spread between the official and black market exchange rates has escalated to 117%, hurting farmers who get paid at the official rate while paying their expenses on the black market.

Work stoppages are common in Argentina, where employers are hard-pressed to offer wages that keep up with inflation, which the government expects at 29% next year.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Maximilin Heath; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Sandra Maler

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