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Outburst! Strikes at ports in many European countries, Maersk emergency warning: shipping delays

2024-06-19 09:21

  On June 17, cargo and container handling at Germany's main seaports came to a near standstill. With the impasse in the collective bargaining agreement unbreakable, the Verdi trade union in Germany decided on Monday to launch a warning strike to convey their demands to employers.

At 5 o'clock in the morning of the 17th, the strike action officially began. The first to be hit are Hamburg and Bremen, Germany's two major container ports. As the strike spread, the ports of Bremerhaven, Blake and Emden joined the strike. The stagnation of these ports, which are important nodes in the German and European trade network, has undoubtedly put great pressure on the entire logistics chain.

Under the influence of the strike, port traffic came to a standstill. As you can see from the photos released by the media, the once busy port has become empty and silent, with only a few trucks lined up on the bridge to the port of Hamburg, as if silently telling the helplessness of the strike. Rail freight companies have also warned that the backlog of services due to strikes will have a serious impact on the movement of goods.

The strike focused on a dispute between employers and employees over wages and benefits. The Verdi union insisted on an increase of 3 euros per hour in wages from 1 June, as well as an increase in shift allowances, in order to improve the treatment of workers. However, the German Central Association of Seaports proposed a relatively low increase, proposing a 2.5% increase in hourly wages from June 1, as well as a similar increase in shift allowance. The proposal clearly failed to meet the union's expectations, leading to an impasse in the negotiations.

On the 17th, global shipping giant Maersk issued an urgent warning to customers, pointing out that its shipping network is expected to be widely affected due to strike action at major German seaports. According to Maersk's assessment, a number of scheduled sailing plans will be disrupted and postponed due to strikes, especially in Finnish services, which may be more significantly impacted.

In the face of this unfavorable situation, Maersk said that it would take a series of measures to deal with it. Consideration is being given to changing the vessel's route or reducing the call to minimise the impact on subsequent schedules and thus minimise delays for the customer's cargo. This agile strategy will help Maersk maintain operational efficiency during the strike, while also working to protect the interests of its customers.

However, even after the strike ends, Maersk expects that the terminal may face congestion for container delivery and pick-up once it resumes operations. This is mainly due to the fact that the backlog of cargo and containers during the strike needs to be processed in a timely manner, and the processing capacity of the terminal may be limited to a certain extent.

Therefore, Maersk advises customers to be prepared and communicate with the relevant departments in advance to ensure the smooth delivery and pick-up of the goods.

In addition, shippers in the Nordic region are facing another layer of pressure. Labor tensions are also rising in France, with unions representing dock workers and other port workers already in several one-day strikes and several four-hour shutdowns this month, according to media reports. These strike actions have not only affected the operational efficiency of French ports, but have also further exacerbated the pressure on Nordic shippers. It is necessary to face a more complex logistics environment and uncertainties to ensure the timely transportation and delivery of goods.

Overall, strike action in Germany and labor tensions in France pose challenges to the global shipping and logistics industry. Shipping lines and shippers need to keep an eye on these changes and take steps to address potential risks and challenges.

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