German port workers launch strikes amid labour negotiations

German port workers launch strikes amid labour negotiations

Workers at German ports have begun a two-day strike to pressure employers ahead of the fourth round of negotiations with the Central Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS).

The United Services Trade Union (ver.di) has called on employees in Bremen and Wilhelmshaven to strike, with Bremen workers striking during the first shift on 10 July, and Wilhelmshaven workers striking from the first shift on 10 July until 11 July.

Additionally, workers in Hamburg and Bremerhaven will strike on 9 and 10 July, while employees in Emden are scheduled to strike during the first and second shifts on 10 July.

The strikes follow earlier warning strikes that disrupted vessel operations and caused congestion at container terminals.

The strike action aims to intensify pressure on employers ahead of the fourth round of negotiations, scheduled for 11-12 July in Bremen.

READ: German port strikes may trigger $6 billion trade setback

“In the third round of negotiations, we were still far apart,” said ver.di negotiator Maren Ulbrich.

“The offer presented by the employers is not acceptable to us. The employers still have to make some progress, particularly on the wage increases offered.”

Ulbrich emphasised that the expansion of the warning strikes is a clear signal to employers about the seriousness of the employees’ demands.

The German union is demanding a €3 ($3.24) increase in hourly wages effective from 1 June 2024, along with higher shift allowances. This includes a catch-up for the missed increase in shift allowances in the 2022 collective agreement, with a term of 12 months for the new agreement.

“It is important that the lower wage groups in particular are given financial relief through the wage increases. Inflation in recent years has hit them particularly hard. In addition, the wage differences between the various groups must be reduced. And there must also be an increase in real wages in the upper wage groups,” Ulbrich stated.

In other news, the planned strike at western Canadian ports on 8 July was cancelled after the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) ruled that the union’s strike notice violated the country’s labour code.

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