Viewpoint: How do you put value on today’s longshore workers?

That’s the billion-dollar question for both German and US ports

Labor strikes and slowdowns at ports in Germany, Antwerp, Belgium, and Rotterdam, Netherlands, are crippling trade and could trigger more logistical inflationary pressures for U.S. importers and consumers.

The German trade union Ver.di and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) will enter into their sixth round of negotiations on Tuesday. After warning strikes surrounding the subject of wage increases, the congestion that has been created is so solid that it will take at least three months for the pileup to be cleared out of the ports, according to Andreas Braun, Europe, Middle East and Africa ocean product director for Crane Worldwide Logistics.

Ocean carriers have diverted to Antwerp and Rotterdam but this has now created congestion at those ports,

A domino effect of congestion has been created and delays at other European ports and this is expanding over into the U.S. East Coast. Antwerp’s union recently had a one-day strike protesting for a better wage in the face of rising inflation. The rails in Rotterdam are currently crippled under miles of piled-up containers as a result of labor slowdowns and the rails being shut down because of jammed yard capacity at the German ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven.

According to the CNBC Supply Chain Heat Map, the majority of pipes of trade within the European port system are clogged — from vessel availability to trucking to container availability and processing.

Dislocation of containers was one of the reasons behind the push-up in rates during the pandemic and Braun said it could happen again. These costs are passed over to the consumer, which adds to inflation.

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