Dock workers at Brazil's main shipping ports began a one-day strike on Thursday in support of broader union demonstrations, holding up a sugar vessel in the main port of Santos.
Stevedores at Santos held a six-hour protest on Wednesday, affecting some 13 container ships, but not bulk cargo shipments like soy and corn.
On Thursday, the stoppage spread to ports throughout the country, including No. 2 port Paranagua, Rio Grande, Espírito Santo, Fortaleza, Pernambuco, and São Luiz, said Wilton Barreto, president of the National Stevedores Association in Brasilia.
Ten of 31 ships birthed for the 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift at Santos had been affected, mostly container ships, according to Codesp, the local port authority. Access to the port on two roads was also blocked, it said.
The sugar vessel was stopped at a public terminal but sugar exports from private terminals were apparently not affected.
"We are in the street protesting, in support of the day of struggle," Cesar Rodrigues Alves, a senior representative of the union of stevedores at Santos port, told Reuters by phone.
Dock workers have held occasional protests this year against legislation allowing the sale of port terminals to private companies that Congress passed on May 16. They fear a loss of jobs and benefits because private operators no longer have to hire through the centralized agency, "OGMO."
Brazil is currently exporting record soy, corn and sugar crops. Typically, bulk cargo such as grains are less affected by labor stoppages because they require fewer workers. The movement of container goods with perishables such as coffee, bagged sugar and meats is more vulnerable.