Germany’s major seaports are threatened with a 24-hour standstill on Thursday due to a warning strike. Dissatisfied with the results of the fourth round of negotiations in the collective bargaining dispute over the wages of dock workers, the Verdi union has called on thousands of employees to stop working at the beginning of the morning shift.
The ports of Hamburg, Emden, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Brake and Wilhelmshaven are affected. The Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) considers the warning strike to be disproportionate and calls for a mediation process. In Hamburg, the warning strike is to be accompanied by a demonstration (9 a.m.) that is to lead from the ZDS headquarters to the trade union building.
The already chaotic handling of container and cargo ships due to the corona virus threatens to get completely out of step. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, more than two percent of global freight capacity is now stuck in traffic jams in the North Sea. In the German Bight alone, 15 large container ships were waiting to be cleared in Hamburg or Bremerhaven. Even before the third round of negotiations, port workers had, for the first time in decades, paralyzed the handling of ships for several hours in a warning strike and further increased the already massive delays at the quayside.
The Verdi union is demanding an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros for the approximately 12,000 employees in the 58 collective bargaining companies in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Bremen for a collective bargaining period of 12 months and an increase in the annual allowance of 1,200 euros in full container companies. In addition, Verdi demands an unspecified “actual compensation for inflation”.