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German seaports hit by coordinated strikes

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-06-18 03:51
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BERLIN -- After individual work stoppages in Germany's shipping industry last week, employees of the country's major seaports took part in a joint strike on Monday.

"Operations at many Hamburg port companies will be suspended and there will be disruptions," a spokesperson for Port of Hamburg Marketing (HHM) told Xinhua. All container terminals are affected, although an on-site emergency service will be guaranteed, the spokesperson added.

In order to increase pressure on employers in the ongoing wage negotiations, employees of the ports of Bremen, Bremerhaven, Brake and Emden also went on strike.

The demands include an immediate increase in hourly wages of 3 euros ($3.21) and an increase in shift bonuses with a contract term of 12 months, according to the negotiating trade union Verdi.

"It is important that the lower wage groups in particular are financially relieved by the wage increases," said lead negotiator Maren Ulbrich in a statement, stressing that these groups had been "particularly hard hit" by the high inflation of recent years. According to official data, inflation in Germany in 2022 and 2023 stood at 6.9 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.

The Central Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS) has offered a 2.5 percent increase in hourly wages and a fixed minimum amount for the lower wage groups.

The strikes starting Monday are expected to last for approximately 24 or 48 hours. The Danish shipping giant Maersk said in a statement on Monday that the strikes in German ports will have widespread implications on its network, with multiple planned voyages to be disrupted and delayed. 

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