German union calls for port strike

Union calls for port strike in Germany

The German union Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (ver.di) has called on seaport employees to hold a central strike day in Hamburg.

The strike will affect the Port of Hamburg, the Port of Bremen, as well as Bremerhaven, Brake and Emden beginning on 17 June at 5:00 am local time and, depending on the port location, it will last for approximately 24 or 48 hours, until late in the evening of 17 or 18 June.

READ: Germany reconsiders COSCO investment in Hamburg port amid security concerns

The German union reported that the situation escalated as employers, the Central Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS), did not submit a negotiable offer in the second round of negotiations on 6 June.

According to ver.di, the strike would increase pressure on the employers to submit a negotiable offer in the third round of collective bargaining, which will take place on 17-18 June in Hamburg, coinciding with the prospected strike.

“With their strikes in Hamburg, Bremen, Bremerhaven and Emden, the port workers have already impressively shown last week that they are committed to their demands,” emphasised ver.di negotiator Maren Ulbrich.

“From Monday [17 June], the pressure will be increased again to make it clear to the employers that the employees are behind the demands and need a real wage increase.”

The employers’ offer so far does not mean a real increase in real wages for the employees; in addition, the social component is completely inadequate, according to the union.

ver.di is calling for an increase in hourly wages of EUR 3 ($3.21) as of 1 June, as well as a corresponding increase in shift allowances, including a catch-up for the missing increase in shift allowances in the 2022 collective agreement, with a term of the collective agreement of 12 months.

READ: Failed bargaining triggers 24-hour warning strike at German Ports

Ulbrich further commented: “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. The ZDS has understood this and taken it into account in the current offer, but not nearly to the extent required. 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.”

Danish giant Maersk has reported that the prospected strikes will have widespread implications on its network, with multiple planned voyages to be disrupted and delayed, particularly for its services in Finland.

Just last week, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) suspended negotiations over a new labour contract with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX).

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