24-hour warning strike threatens to paralyze German seaports
Created: 06/22/2022, 14:56
Port workers go to a strike meeting in Hamburg.
© Markus Scholz/dpa
Standstill is imminent in Germany's major seaports.
Dissatisfied with the employer's offer, the Verdi union called a 24-hour warning strike.
The consequences are likely to be great.
Hamburg/Bremen - The handling of container and cargo ships in Germany's seaports, which is already chaotic due to the corona, threatens to get completely out of step due to a warning strike by port workers.
Dissatisfied with the results of the fourth round of negotiations in Bremen, the Verdi union called on thousands of workers on Wednesday to stop working for 24 hours on Thursday morning.
The ports of Hamburg, Emden, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Brake and Wilhelmshaven are affected.
The Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) condemned the strike announcement and called for a mediation process.
"The announced 24-hour warning strikes are not proportionate," said ZDS negotiator Ulrike Riedel.
"We would have liked to have avoided another warning strike, but we cannot accept the offer that is now available, which has mostly been worsened," said Verdi negotiator Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth.
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.
Dozens of ships are waiting to be dispatched
Dozens of ships are currently waiting to be cleared in the North Sea because of container shipping, which has gotten out of step as a result of the corona pandemic.
According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, more than two percent of global freight capacity is stuck there and cannot be loaded or unloaded.
In the German Bight alone, 15 large container ships are currently waiting to be cleared in Hamburg or Bremerhaven - and there is no end in sight.
After the end of the lockdown at the world's largest container port in Shanghai, a wave of container freighters is now rolling towards Europe.
At the same time, there are already hardly any container slots in the ports because boxes that would otherwise be transported on within a short time now have to be stored temporarily.
Schwiegershausen-Güth called the employer's latest offer for the approximately 12,000 employees in the 58 collective bargaining companies in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Bremen a classic sham.
"After the rapprochement in the third round, we have now taken a step backwards." She called on the employers for further negotiations.
"Your offer cannot be the last word."
According to its own statements, the ZDS presented its “final” offer in Bremen on Tuesday.
According to this, the hourly wage of port workers is to increase by 1.20 euros for a collective agreement term of 18 months, and by 90 cents in car handling.
In addition, the allowance in the container area is to increase by 1,200 euros.
In addition, a one-off payment of EUR 1,000 is planned for full container operations and EUR 500 for conventional operations.
Verdi is demanding salary increases of up to 14 percent
Verdi, on the other hand, is also demanding an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros for employees with a term of only 12 months and an increase in the annual allowance of 1200 euros in full container companies.
In addition, Verdi calls for an unspecified "actual compensation for inflation".
With wages currently ranging from just under 15 euros to a good 28 euros per hour, the Verdi demands mean a salary increase of up to 14 percent.
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"We offered an immediately effective volume of up to 11 percent, including a permanent wage increase of up to 7.2 percent," said Riedel.
This goes beyond genuine real wage security and is well above comparable wage agreements.
Riedel accused Verdi of not making any compromises.
"We call on ver.di to immediately enter into an orderly mediation process with us and thus to live up to our joint responsibility at this time, which is characterized by multiple crises," said Riedel.
The ZDS negotiator was particularly outraged by the considerable damage to property on the office building of BLG Logistics Group AG & Co KG in Bremen.
"We condemn this blind vandalism." dpa