Strikes spawn entry shift at UK ports

Large container ship being loaded by cranes. Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk

Vessel arrivals at the Ports of Liverpool and Felixstowe have toppled due to continuous strike action, as other ports across the UK benefitted from the shift.

According to the latest analysis from FourKites, Liverpool has suffered a drastic shift in ships arriving to the port (including exports, imports, and transshipment stops) coinciding with the several strikes that occurred in the past months.

Shipments decreased by 58 per cent week-over-week during the week of 11 September before the first strike began, indicating that shippers were potentially avoiding the Port of Liverpool due to the impending industrial action.

Arrivals plummeted in the week of 18-25 September during the first strike, as well as during the week of 9 October during the second strike.

Weekly shipments arriving to the Port of Liverpool during the weeks of 2-16 October were down by 44 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively, compared to the beginning of August.

When the third strike began on 24 October, FourKites registered a severe downfall of arrivals 92 per cent week-over-week.

READ: Port of Liverpool goes back to normality following pay deal

The situation at Felixstowe, the UK’s busiest container port, was no different.

FourKites saw a significant increase in dwell times for containers already at the facility as the Port of Felixstowe was rocked by the first strike.

On 21 August (the day the first strike began), ocean shipments (including import/export/transshipment) had been at terminal for 5.5 days on average. By 30 August, this had increased to a peak of 10.3 days on average, or an 87 per cent increase.

After the initial strike ended, Felixstowe saw signs of recovery with congestion decreasing to 3.8 days on average as reported by FourKites, though the onset of the second strike on 27 September caused this to increase again by 134 per cent to 8.9 days as of 10 October.

Shipment arrivals to Felixstowe decreased from 20 per cent of all UK port arrivals (during the week of 7 August) to 0 per cent.

During this period, FourKites believes many shipments may have been rerouted to other ports in the UK such as Southampton, which saw an increase from 13 per cent to 25 per cent over the same two-week period.

Felixstowe also saw a decrease in shipment arrivals as the second strike began, decreasing by 65 per cent week-over-week.

FourKites reported that shipments were diverted to other ports such as London Gateway, too, as the share of shipment arrivals at London Gateway increased from 10 per cent at the beginning of August to 13 per cent during the week of 27 September, when both Felixstowe and Liverpool had ongoing port strikes at the same time.

READ: New Felixstowe strikes land another blow to hurting UK supply chain

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