Large warning strike paralyzes ports on the North Sea coast
Under the motto “Stop the inflation monster”, dock workers parade through Hamburg’s HafenCity.
Container giants are mooring at sea, workers are on strike in ports. The outrage in collective bargaining disputes is so great that some employees resort to prohibited means of protest.
Hamburg/Bremerhaven. Thousands of port workers operating container and cargo ships in Germany’s major ports have been largely paralyzed with a 24-hour warning strike.
“Emden, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Breck, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg, there are still cranes and systems everywhere today,” said Verdi negotiator Maya Schweigershausen-Guth at a rally of several thousand port workers in Hamburg.
Employees went out on shifts early Thursday, with work not scheduled to resume until Friday morning. The aim was to increase the pressure on employers in the collective bargaining dispute over dock workers’ wages. “We need a strong sip from the bottle, we need a strong salary increase,” said Schweigershausen-Guth, according to the union, in front of more than 4,000 demonstrators. The police spoke of 3500 participants.
Ships are getting worse and worse on the North Sea
The impact of the warning strike on container and cargo ship operations is likely to be significant. During the first warning strike three weeks ago, which only lasted four and a half hours, the loading and unloading of ships came to a standstill. The already tense situation was exacerbated by the ship jam on the North Sea.
According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, more than two percent of the global freight capacity is now stuck there because of Corona. In the German Bight alone, 15 container ships were waiting to be cleared in Hamburg or Bremerhaven, according to current figures from Tuesday. For Germany and the European Union, this means a reduction in foreign trade, especially with Asia, from where consumer electronics, furniture and textiles are sold.
Accordingly, the Hamburg shipping company was not very happy about the warning strike at Hapag-Lloyd and reported significant losses. “Every day a ship capsizes costs us money and also harms customers, consumers, seafarers and our shore crew,” said a spokesman. The strikes contribute to an already extremely tense situation in the industry and damage the reputation of the Port of Hamburg.
Despite four rounds of negotiations, Verdi and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) have not reached an agreement for around 12,000 employees in 58 collective bargaining companies in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Bremen. The tough fronts were also reflected in the fact that smoke pots and firecrackers were sometimes lit at the Hamburg demo. It is completely unusual for such incidents. The police threatened to stop the demo. The office building of BLG Logistics Group AG & Co KG in Bremen was damaged on Tuesday after an unsuccessful fourth round of talks.
The union is demanding an increase in the hourly wage to 1.20 euros for a 12-month contract period and an increase in the annual flat rate to 1,200 euros in full container companies. In addition, Verdi calls for an unspecified “actual inflation compensation”. With an hourly wage of currently only 15 to a good 28 euros, Verdi’s demands mean a salary increase of up to 14 percent.
In the supposedly “final” offer, ZDS offers an hourly wage increase of 1.20 euros for a tariff period of 18 months – up to 90 cents in the car shell. He also agrees to an increase in the allowance of 1200 euros. To compensate for inflation, a one-off payment of 1000 euros must be made for full container companies and 500 euros for traditional companies.
ZDS negotiator Ulrike Riedel recently said: “We have now offered up to 11 percent of the amounts, including a permanent wage increase of up to 7.2 percent.” This goes far beyond the actual wage security and is well above comparable collective agreements.
“Making a worse offer in the fourth round of talks than in the last – that doesn’t make me laugh!” said the spokesman for the Verdi shop stewards in the overall port operations, Sebastian Kalkowski. “The employer needs us more than we need. And that’s a pretty clear sign: He shouldn’t be making fun of us!”
Warning strike paralyzes container port Bremerhaven
In addition to Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Germany’s second largest container port, was also paralysed. “The port is still there,” said Verdi Secretary Marcus Westermann. He expects 2,500 longshoremen to shut down all three shifts. There was a strike both in container handling and in the loading and unloading of car freighters.
Almost the entire workforce also went on strike in the city of Bremen and the Lower Saxony ports of Brecht, Wilhelmshaven and Emden. A Verdi spokesman in Wilhelmshaven said: “The company is at a standstill.” “The early shifts all went out of the factory gates and followed the call for a strike,” said Brake. Car freighters were not handled in Emden. In Bremen, around 90 employees went on strike in the Neustadter Hafen general cargo port.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220623-99-774244/4