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Brazil Port Operator Faces Losses as Workers Plan Walkout

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s Santos Brasil Participacoes SA, the country’s largest shipping-container operator, faces as much as 2 million reais ($1.02 million) in losses from a half-day strike against a government port set for Feb. 22.

Workers at the Santos port will walk off the job for six hours, according to Paulo Pereira da Silva, federal deputy and president of the Forca Sindical labor federation. Santos, the port-operations company, stands to lose as much as 4 million reais a day from work stoppages, according to chief commercial officer Mauro Salgado.

Port union leaders in Brazil, the largest exporter of sugar and orange juice, are protesting government plans to cede control of as many as 95 terminals to private operators. President Dilma Rousseff has instructed officials to resist union pressure and continue with plans, which aim to attract 54.2 billion reais in private port investments and help jump-start an economy that grew at the slowest pace among major emerging markets last year.

Changing port ownership will lead to worker firings and worsening labor conditions, labor union leaders say. Government plans will improve ports by introducing new competition, according to Chief of Staff Gleisi Hoffmann.

Government and labor union representatives are scheduled to hold talks on Feb. 22.

The world’s second-largest emerging market grew 1 percent last year, according to the central bank. That’s down from 2.7 percent in 2011 and 7.5 percent in 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Malinowski in Brasilia at mmalinowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sylvia Wier at swier@bloomberg.net

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