After the port workers' strike: ship traffic jams on the North Sea are getting longer and longer

Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, global cargo ship traffic has repeatedly gotten out of joint due to lockdowns.

After the port workers' strike: ship traffic jams on the North Sea are getting longer and longer

Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, global cargo ship traffic has repeatedly gotten out of joint due to lockdowns. After a staff strike in North Sea ports, freighter traffic jams there are at record levels. This can lead to delivery delays and higher import prices.

Last week's 48-hour dockworkers' strike caused container ship traffic jams on the North Sea to increase again. Economist Vincent Stamer from the Kiel Institute for Economic Research (IfW) said that for the first time since the IfW began collecting data in 2016, more than 20 container ships were waiting to enter a German port.

Furthermore, the container ship traffic jams in the North Sea alone tie up more than two percent of global freight capacity. The majority of these are now in the German Bight, from which the most important container ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven, for example, are headed for.

"The situation is not exclusively due to the strikes by the port workers," Stamer continued. "Both strikes and capacity bottlenecks at the ports have aggravated the situation." For the German economy, this means further delivery delays in the short term and higher import prices in the medium term, especially for products from countries outside Europe.

Since the beginning of the corona pandemic more than two years ago, lockdowns, especially in Chinese and American ports, have thrown the schedules in global traffic for container and cargo ships upside down. As a result, the otherwise precise processes at the quay edges have also become increasingly out of sync. For example, there are hardly any container parking spaces in the ports because boxes that would otherwise be transported on within a short time have to be stored temporarily. More than 90 percent of global trade in goods is handled by ship.

In this situation, the most recent warning strike by port workers hit the port logisticians and thus also the shipping companies as their customers. The Verdi trade union and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) are arguing about the extent to which port workers' wages should increase. In what have now been seven rounds of negotiations, accompanied by three warning strikes, they have not been able to come to an agreement.

Further labor disputes are excluded until the end of August. A settlement reached in the Hamburg labor court last week stipulates that the parties to the collective bargaining agreement must agree on three further hearing dates by August 26 by the end of next week. Verdi is therefore not allowed to call for any further warning strikes during this period.

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