A strike at a major Chilean port could affect fruit exports to the U.S.

Workers seeking retroactive pay for half-hour lunch breaks began striking Jan. 3 at the Port of San Antonio, according to press reports confirmed by the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX).

ASOEX said the strike is directly affecting Chilean exporters’ ability to ship their fruit and called on the Chilean government to take action.

“We only know that the government is meeting with the Port of San Antonio during the course of these days to try to bring this issue to an end,” said Fernando Balart, ASOEX’s marketing manager for U.S. and Latin America.

As of Jan. 7, the strike’s effects were minimal on Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International, but there’s no guarantee that will remain the case, said Chris DeSana, the company’s grape commodity manager.

“Thus far, the strike has not affected our arrival schedule, as it is currently in San Antonio pier and we are loading out of Valparaiso,” DeSana said. “But it is possible that could change tomorrow or any time.”

Josh Leichter, general manager of Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC, said grape growers he talked to the week of Jan. 6 hadn’t mentioned any negative effects from the strike.

“We’re not feeling anything directly on grapes, but it doesn’t mean we won’t wake up tomorrow and hear differently,” he said. “It sounds like it’s mostly containers in the south that are going to other markets.”