Wave of port strikes put global supply chains under new pressure – Politico


LONDON – A new wave of workers’ strike at UK ports is adding further stress to supply chains created by rising cost of living, as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts have warned that widespread industrial action will hit Britain’s faltering economy and could have detrimental effects for nearby shipping routes at a critical time – adding new pain points to already closed global trade arteries.

The UK’s fourth largest port, Liverpool’s Peel Port, has over 500 stevedores, Voted for strike on Monday After rejecting the 7 per cent pay hike. Employees are demanding wage increases in line with rising inflation – already over 9 percent, and rising rapidly – and accusing bosses of failing to raise wages and backing off an agreed bonus plan since 2018 .

Peel Port workers are the second group of UK dockworkers to announce strike action this month, after nearly 1,900 workers at Felixstow, the country’s largest port, announced eight days of strike action. Felixstowe’s global shipping container network circulation is expected to stop from this Sunday Negotiations with the owners broke down,

“As global supply chains start to run more smoothly, so does industrial action,” said Chris Rogers, chief supply chain economist at freight forwarding firm Flexport.

The pandemic-induced sky-high shipping container prices that drive up inflation, and the constraints people create to buy goods are finally easing, Rogers said, adding that the timing of the latest wave of attacks was “particularly unfortunate, extreme shipping.” Coming at the beginning of the “season.”

He said a journey of more than 40 days for goods en route from South East Asia to the UK means products ordered for the start of the Christmas inventory cycle will arrive as soon as industrial action begins. “It is inevitable that UK supply chains dependent on global trade will experience some form of disruption,” Rogers said.

However, ports and manufacturers are keen to minimize potential disruption. A spokesman for the British Ports Association (BPA), citing expansion opportunities at other UK docks such as London Gateway and Southampton, said: “We do not currently anticipate a long-term impact on UK supply chains.”

A spokesman for manufacturing lobby group Make UK said semi-conductors, parts for assembly and finished retail would be rerouted to other UK ports “if space allows,” or to ports such as Rotterdam in the EU.

“The capacity to handle additional volumes is available if needed,” he stressed.

But diverting traffic won’t be easy, said Bobby Morton, a Unite union representative working on wage negotiations for Felixstow’s workers. “Workers in other ports cannot handle ships shipped from Felixstow,” he warned.

Rotterdam dockworkers have already said they will refuse to land ships diverted from Felixstow, Dutch Union FNV announced Last week.

“I have received letters of support from American dockworkers on the West Coast,” Morton said, adding that “they will refuse to take over from Felixstowe or any work.” He said workers of the Maritime Union of Australia have made the same promise.

Citing the strikes of British Rail freight and warehouse workers, Rogers said the challenges posed by the port strike “could be compounded by labor action in other centralized parts of the logistics network.”

This summer’s strikes organized by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) involved 40,000 Network Rail workers Manages rail infrastructure Freight. Workers have rejected a “modest” 4 per cent wage hike, and an event in London this Wednesday will kick off further rallies across the UK as workers face soaring energy bills and grocery prices The salary is much more than what is offered.

Amazon Warehouse worker in uk are also striking, further increasing risks to supply chains. there have been strikes european dock Germany also has a wave of labor shortages around the world this summer – becoming a new wildcard in global supply chain bottlenecks, according to Joanna Konings, a senior economist for international trade at ING.

Port of Oakland near San Francisco shut down Due to a trucking strike in late July. and an eight-day truck driver’s strike in South Korea in June howling Microchip Supply Chain.

The issue is complicated because labor markets are already tight in advanced economies around the world. For a group of workers, the pandemic offered a one-off decision to retire, Konings said, and some labor “isn’t going to flex back.”

Konings said, “The strikes are going to happen because they are an opportunity for workers to gain an increase in wages …

Still, disruption from striking workers is “unlikely” the scale of the impact of the blockade of the Suez Canal container ship Ever Given last year, the British manufacturers argued.

The biggest disruption for British manufacturers, Make UK expects, will see logistics operators get their exported or imported products to or from the diverted ports, leaving some “uncertain” as to when. [their] The product will leave the UK or be delivered to their warehouses.”

Flexport’s Rogers has a gloomy view in a report on the performance of British ports, scheduled for publication on Tuesday. The result, he said, was “overcrowding at other ports in the UK and Europe”, which could trigger a “knocking effect for global shipping routes”.

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