Germany's major seaports are facing a 24-hour stoppage on Thursday due to a warning strike. Dissatisfied with the results of the fourth round of negotiations in the wage dispute over pay for port workers, the Verdi union has called on thousands of employees to walk off the job at the start of the early shift.
The ports of Hamburg, Emden, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Brake and Wilhelmshaven would be affected. The Central Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS) considers the warning strike to be disproportionate and is calling for a mediation process. In Hamburg, the warning strike is to be accompanied by a demonstration (9:00 a.m.) leading from the ZDS headquarters to the union building.
The already corona-conditioned chaotic clearance of container and cargo ships is thus threatening to get completely out of step. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, more than two percent of global cargo capacity is now stuck in the North Sea. In the German Bight alone, 15 large container ships are waiting for clearance in Hamburg or Bremerhaven. Even before the third round of negotiations, port workers had largely paralyzed the handling of ships for several hours in a warning strike for the first time in decades, further increasing the already massive delays at the quayside.
The Verdi trade union is demanding an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros for the approximately 12,000 employees in the 58 companies in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Bremen covered by the collective agreement, with a collective agreement period of 12 months, as well as an increase in the annual allowance of 1,200 euros in full container operations. In addition, Verdi is demanding an unspecified "actual compensation for inflation".
In what it describes as its "final" offer, the ZDS is offering an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros - 90 cents in car transshipment - for a collective bargaining period of 18 months and has agreed to an increase in the allowance of 1200 euros. To compensate for inflation, there is to be a one-off payment of 1000 euros in full-container operations and 500 euros in conventional ones.
Photo by Jacob Meissner