Dockers’ strike exacerbates traffic jams in the North Sea | Free press

In some sectors, relatively few workers can paralyze a large mechanism – this is also the case in ports, import and export hubs. The consequences of the recent warning strike are now becoming apparent.

Hamburg / Kiel.

Last week’s 48-hour dockers’ strike caused traffic jams on container ships in the North Sea to escalate again. Economist Vincent Stamer of the Kiel Institute for Economic Research (IfW) told dpa that for the first time since the IfW started collecting data in 2016, more than 20 container ships were waiting to enter the German port.

Moreover, the container ships themselves jam in the North Sea, taking up more than two percent of global shipping capacity. Most of them are currently located in the German Bay, from which, for example, the most important container ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven are directed.

“The situation is not just due to the strikes by the dock workers,” continued Stamer. “Both the strikes and the bottlenecks in the ports have made the situation worse.” For the German economy, this means further delivery delays in the short term and higher import prices in the medium term, especially for products from non-European countries.

Since the onset of the crown pandemic, more than two years ago, blockades, especially in Chinese and US ports, have turned global container and cargo ship traffic schedules upside down. As a result, the otherwise precise processes at the quay edges are also increasingly out of sync. For example, there are hardly any container parking spaces in the ports as boxes that would otherwise be transported in a short time need to be temporarily stored. More than 90 percent of world trade in goods is carried out by sea.

In this situation, the latest warning strike by port workers hit the port logistics and thus also the shipowners as their customers. The trade union Verdi and the Central Union of German Seaport Enterprises (ZDS) are arguing about the extent to which the wages of port workers should increase. In seven rounds of negotiations, accompanied by three warning strikes, they failed to reach an agreement.

Further labor disputes are ruled out until the end of August. A settlement reached at the Hamburg labor court last week stipulates that parties to the collective bargaining agreement must agree three more hearing dates by August 26 by the end of next week. Consequently, Verdi cannot call for further warning strikes during this period. (dpa)

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