UPDATED: 6/22/22—On June 22, the Verdi labor union announced that a further warning strike action will take place on Thursday, June 23. This action will be more robust than the previous one, and is expected to close all German ports on the North Sea for a 24-hour period, at least.
The union has rejected the latest offer from employers and claim the most recent proposal is actually a step back from previous progress, which has prompted the action.
On Monday June 20, labor unions working in the nearby Port of Antwerp also embarked on a 24-hour strike which closed the port operations. The port was re-opened for normal activity and given the current congestion, the one day strike is not expected to cause any significant worsening of the situation.
However, continued labor activity across the connected North Sea ports remains a significant concern, especially as there are few signs of progress in these negotiations. As the risk of more impactful action continues to build, the current actions hamper any efforts for these ports to recover from the current congestion woes.
On Thursday night June 9, the German labor union Verdi took a strike action that is considered a warning strike, in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven, effectively shutting down all operation for a short period. While services through these ports are expected to continue, the threat of further action is being monitored closely.
These actions are being done as negotiations take place between employers and the labor unions for pay increases and is seen as a move to increase pressure on the employers to close the gap between initial offerings and the union’s demands.
Negotiations are set to continue Friday, June 10 with the hope for a swift resolution. Extended negotiations would likely lead to further disruptive action or even long-term strike and lockout scenarios.
Major ports in Northern Europe, such as Antwerp and Rotterdam, alongside the German ports have been dealing with difficult conditions and overwhelming congestion for the last several months. Even small labor actions in these conditions could increase the challenges these ports face. Anything more widespread or long-term would be cause for serious alarm.
Short term disruptions to bookings and delays in cargo movement are possible and will worsen if further action is taken.