Warning strike: Port personnel paralyze ship operations

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warning strike

Port personnel paralyzed ship operations

In the evening around 1000 workers protested in front of the factory gate in Bremerhaven. The Verdi union had called for a warning strike lasting several hours.

Photo: DPA

Nothing works anymore – dock workers have paralyzed large German ports with a massive warning strike. The situation is already extremely tense with disruptions to the supply chain.

Hamburg/Bremen. For the first time in decades, port workers are launching a warning strike in Germany’s major ports, largely paralyzing ship operations and exacerbating the already tense situation at the terminals.

With the end of work on Thursday, the employees wanted to increase the pressure on employers to present a new wage offer in the third round of collective bargaining in Hamburg this Friday. From the point of view of the Verdi union, the previous one is insufficient and does not do justice to the situation. The Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) called the warning strike irresponsible and unacceptable.

Container handling has largely stalled

The ports of Hamburg, Emden, Bremen, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven were affected by the stagnation of port workers in the late shifts. According to Verdi, container handling largely came to a standstill – which added to the already massive delays at the quayside. Dozens of ships are waiting to be cleared in the German Bight as container shipping has lost momentum due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ten ships for three terminals of the Hamburg port logistics company HHLA were anchored off Helgoland alone, said company spokesman Hans-Jörg Hems of the German Press Agency.

Container parking spaces are scarce

According to calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, ships with around two percent of the global freight capacity are currently perishable in the North Sea and cannot be loaded or unloaded in Germany, Holland or Belgium. Hm. There is no end in sight: After months of lockdown in the world’s largest container port in Shanghai, a wave of container freighters is now on its way to Europe. At the same time, there are already hardly any container slots in the ports, since boxes that would otherwise have been transported within a short time now have to be stored temporarily.

Disrupted supply chains with sometimes week-long delays by the container giants also have direct consequences for the port workers. According to Vardy, employees showed extreme resilience during the pandemic and worked a lot of overtime.

Verdi: Hourly wage increased by 1.20 euros

Accordingly, the union justifies its demands for port workers in 58 collective bargaining companies in Lower Saxony, Bremen and Hamburg. Among other things, Verdi is demanding an unspecified “genuine compensation for inflation” for around 12,000 employees and an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros. With an hourly wage of currently only 15 euros to a good 28 euros, this means a salary increase of up to 14 percent. So far this year, the employer side has offered two increases and a lump sum payment of 3.2 and 2.8 percent and a total of 600 euros.

For ZDS negotiator Ulrike Riedel, the warning strike is unacceptable. The employer side presented a proposal that compensates for the loss of employees in actual wages. The offer is in line with several other Verdi collective agreements.

1000 employees took part in Hamburg

According to Verdi, more than 1,000 employees took part in a warning strike lasting several hours in Germany’s largest port, Hamburg. Around 1,000 employees took part in the strike at the three HHLA terminals alone. At the hard-fought Eurogate, the union counted around 400 participants. “Everything is fine,” she said, referring to the handling of the container ships.

According to trade union information, around 1,000 employees visited the second largest German port of Bremerhaven. According to this information, no more container ships were loaded or unloaded on the river quay in the late shift. “The bridges are all still standing,” says Tobias Ulschen from Verdi. The loading of cars was also affected. Employees also stopped working in Bremen and Wilhelmshaven. The same applied to Emden, where car loading and the handling of other seagoing vessels were affected.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220609-99-605445/3

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