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Port strikes the latest headache for shippers as peak season unfolds

Port strikes the latest headache for shippers as peak season unfolds
Sam Chambers June 15, 2022

The threat posed by strikes at ports in Asia, Europe and the US is weighing heavily on shippers’ minds as this year’s peak season unfolds.

Last Friday saw a brief, threatening downing of tools by dockworkers in Hamburg, the first strike action at Germany’s top port in more than three decades, as pay negotiations, which also involve other northern German port cities, falter. Unions in the Hanseatic city are threatening further industrial action at a time where the port is already suffering from unseasonably high congestion.

In Asia, meanwhile, an eight-day strike by South Korea’s unionised truckers came to an end late last night after the union and the transport ministry reached a tentative agreement, ending a nationwide strike that crippled ports and industrial hubs costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Over on the US west coast, finally, to the relief of shippers, the union and employers negotiating the contract for more than 22,000 port labourers on Tuesday said they are committed to reaching a deal and are not planning any work stoppages or lockouts that would worsen supply chain logjams.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employer group have been in negotiations since May.

In a joint statement released Tuesday, the ILWU and PMA said that at a meeting in Los Angeles on Friday, they shared with US president Joe Biden their commitment to reaching a deal.

“Neither party is preparing for a strike or a lockout,” they said.