Threat Of Strikes May Impact Ocean Freight

June 20, 2024

 

There are currently several labour disputes building in Europe and North America, that could disrupt ocean freight during the next few weeks.

In Europe, Germany witnessed a ‘warning’ port strike on Monday at the key ports of Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Bremen and Emden, following unsuccessful talks between unions and the Central Association of German Seaport Operators. More strikes are threatened as the two sides have gone back to the negotiating table over pay demands this week.

Port strikes have also been prevalent in France recently, where a number of one-day walk-outs protesting against pension reforms have already disrupted freight services. However, two strikes planned for next week have been postponed until September after President Macron’s decision to call a surprise snap-election.

In North America, disputes in both Canada and the United States may lead to strikes in the near future.

Around 9,000 Canadian railway workers voted to strike at the end of May and according to labour laws they need authorisation from the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) before legally striking. The CIRB’s decision is expected any time now. Substantial volumes of ocean freight to and from both Canada and the USA moves internally by rail, so if the strike does go ahead it will undoubtedly have an impact on ocean freight services.

And finally, port workers in the USA are in the middle of a labour dispute. The International Longshoremen Association (ILA), which has 85,000 members, has suspended negotiations in its dispute with port employers. The disagreement relates to a new labour contract and if it remains unresolved, up to 36 ports on the East and Gulf Coasts could be affected by a strike.

 

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