North Europe faces critical disarray as strikes rampage through ports

North Europe strikes

Strike action across North Europe is threatening an already congested supply chain as pay talks between trade unions and port companies fall short.

In light of the ongoing congestion across North Europe, A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) has provided customers with an update on the situation at some of its key ports – Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp.

According to the Danish giant, congestion has reached a critical level in Bremerhaven and Hamburg where yard density levels and waiting times at the port have been heavily affected.

Talks between trade union Ver.di and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) have yet to provide an agreement on wage protection. The next round of discussions is scheduled to occur on 21 June.

Ver.di rallied 12,000 dockworkers in Hamburg, Bremen, and Lower Saxony demanding compensation for inflation. Previous negotiations have all failed to provide a settlement.

“This offer is far below the real wage protection demanded by Ver.di, in view of the current rate of price increase of 7.9 per cent, and is therefore unacceptable for the employees,” said the Union’s Chief Negotiator, Maya Schwiegershausen-Gueth.

The Port of Rotterdam has also reached worrying levels of congestion; the critical levels of terminal yard density have resulted in lower productivity in the terminals, said Maersk.

Despite waiting times and terminal productivity have remained under control in Antwerp-Bruges, high yard density across the North Europe network threatens to impact productivity. Adding to the ongoing disruptions, Europe’s largest port has scheduled a national strike for 20 June.

The news comes at a time when the crippling effects of the pandemic had already hampered productivity of Northwest European ports.

Meanwhile, the eight-day strike in South Korea has come to an end after the union and the Transport Ministry reached a tentative agreement, although experts have predicted an early peak season for importers on Transpacific lanes that could further disrupt the supply chain.

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