Hamburg port
Hamburg. Photo: © Kay Fritsch |

German trade union ver.di has called on its members to take part in ‘warning strikes’, that threaten to paralyse German sea ports, before it re-enters the ring for round four of negotiations.

In the build-up to talks with the Central Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS), ver.di called strikes for yesterday, today and tomorrow “to increase the pressure on employers”. 

The fourth round of collective bargaining between ver.di and ZDS will be on 11 and 12 July in Bremen. 

Employees in Hamburg were called out on all-day warning strikes yesterday and today from the first to the third shift; in Bremerhaven, port workers took part in full-shift warning strikes from second shift yesterday to first shift today; full-shift strikes at Emden will happen today, ending at around 10pm; in Bremen, on today’s first shift from 6am to 2pm; and in Wilhelmshaven, from the first shift today up to and including first shift tomorrow.  

German publication DVZ reported around 800 people took part in yesterday’s Bremerhaven strikes, and in Hamburg there was also “a high turnout”.  

Maersk told customers its affected vessels at Hamburg and Bremerhaven “will observe the duration of the strike and recover the impact when service resumes fully”. 

During a previous round of warning strikes last month, the Danish carrier warned about the possibility of congestion for delivery and pick up of containers. 

Indeed, ver.di reminded: “Two years ago, the talks were accompanied by a series of warning strikes that paralysed the ports for around 80 hours. The expansion of the warning strikes in Hamburg will once again send a very clear signal to the employers that the employees are serious about their demands.” 

Ver.di negotiator Maren Ulbrich said: “In the third round of negotiations, we were still far apart. The offer presented by the employers is not acceptable to us as it is. Especially with the wage increases offered, the employers still have to move.” 

According to DVZ, ZDS called on the union for moderation when exercising the right to strike. It was quoted as saying: “In the light of the previous constructive rounds of negotiations and the fair offer presented, there is currently no reason for warning strikes that would impair the reliability of the German seaports.” 

Ver.di is demanding an increase in hourly wages of €3 for port workers from 1 June 2024, as well as a corresponding increase in shift bonuses, including “making up for the lack of an increase in shift bonuses in the 2022 collective bargaining agreement, over a period of 12 months”. 

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