After 48 hours of standstill in the German North Sea ports, thousands of employees are back to work. Peace is compulsory until the end of August. Further rounds of negotiations will have to show how willing the collective bargaining partners are to compromise.
The fiercest labor dispute in the German North Sea ports for decades is over. "The warning strike ended today as planned and work is starting again," said a spokesman for the Verdi union for the port of Hamburg. Previously, thousands of workers had largely paralyzed the handling of goods at all important port locations since Thursday morning.
At an associated rally on Friday afternoon in Hamburg, there were clashes with the police. Five demonstrators and five police officers were injured, and two arrests were made. According to the police, a participant had thrown a firecracker out of the crowd.
The union had called for the warning strike to increase the pressure on employers again after seven unsuccessful rounds. After the first warning strike in a late shift and a 24-hour warning strike in June, the strike-related loss of work in the seaports totaled around 80 hours - the most violent industrial dispute in the ports for more than four decades. Another strike is not to be expected after the end of the strike, at least until the end of August.
A settlement reached before the Hamburg Labor Court envisages further negotiations and a peace obligation until then. Accordingly, the parties to the collective bargaining agreement must agree on three further negotiation dates by August 26 by the end of next week. "During this period, Verdi will not take any further industrial action with the employees of the plaintiffs," said the labor court.
"We welcome the settlement and are counting on Verdi taking constructive steps towards an agreement in the further negotiations," Ulrike Riedel, chief negotiator for the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS), told dpa on Friday. Verdi negotiator Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth underscored the will of the union to reach a compromise with the ZDS. "Strike is always the last resort, but solutions are agreed at the negotiating table," she said. Now it is time to return to the negotiating table and use the imposed three rounds of negotiations to reach a conclusion.
In addition to the largest German seaport, Hamburg, the labor dispute also affected Bremerhaven, Bremen, Emden, Wilhelmshaven and Brake. The strike in the seaports came at the wrong time for the port logisticians. Due to the corona virus, there is already a great deal of confusion in the global traffic of container and cargo ships. The warning strike is now throwing the processes at the quay edges even more out of step. This further exacerbates the tense situation with a ship jam on the North Sea.