Another warning strike by port workers began in all major German North Sea ports in the morning. Early shift employees in Bremen and Bremerhaven have stopped work since 6 a.m., as the ver.di district manager Bremen-Northern Lower Saxony, Markus Westermann, told the German Press Agency in the morning. The walkouts are scheduled to last until 6:00 a.m. on Saturday. The warning strike has also begun at the port of Hamburg, said the trade union secretary in the transport and maritime economy department at ver.di Hamburg, Stephan Gastmeier. "The colleagues have taken up their posts." The strike is also planned to last until Saturday morning.
No agreement with the ZDS succeeded
This threatens Germany's largest seaports to come to a standstill again – this time for 48 hours. The ver.di union has asked employees to stop working by Saturday morning. According to ver.di negotiator Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth, the warning strikes will affect not only Hamburg, by far the largest German seaport, but also Emden, Wilhelmshaven and Brake.
At a meeting scheduled at short notice yesterday, no agreement was reached with the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS). The negotiations are currently on hold. Nevertheless, ver.di is still striving for a solution to the collective bargaining dispute by negotiation.
Both sides are negotiating for around 12,000 employees in 58 collective bargaining companies in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Bremen. The port workers had already paralyzed the handling of ships twice in June, most recently on June 23 for 24 hours.
Ver.di calls for inflation compensation
Ver.di demands an increase in wages of 1.20 euros per hour for the employees and an inflation adjustment of 7.4 percent with a term of the collective agreement of twelve months. In addition, the union wants to push through an increase in the annual allowance for container companies by 1,200 euros.
After repeated improvements, the ZDS recently put a "final offer" on the table, which the association puts at a volume of up to 12.5 percent for container companies and 9.6 percent for conventional companies, but with a term of 24 months.
Container congestion is likely to worsen
The effects of the warning strike on the handling of container and cargo ships are likely to be significant and the loading and unloading of ships will largely come to a standstill. This will exacerbate the already tense situation with a ship jam on the North Sea and the processes at the quay edges are likely to get even further out of step. ZDS negotiator Ulrike Riedel called the call for a strike "irresponsible" in view of the disrupted supply chains to the detriment of consumers and companies.
Due to the corona virus, there has long been chaos in the global traffic of container and cargo ships. According to the latest calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, more than two percent of global freight capacity is stuck in traffic jams in the North Sea. Around 20 freighters are currently waiting to be dispatched at anchorages in the German Bight, most of them bound for Hamburg.