By Nick Savvides 24/03/2023
A rail strike in Germany on Monday is expected to cause delays and rail freight disruptions, with freight forwarders and shippers calling for flexibility on timings to help the movement of goods, with more disruptions in France also expected.
The latest action follows a port pilots’ strike, which ended this morning, and disruption in France as demonstrators protest against the president’s plan to extend the pensionable age.
Stefan Genth, CEO of the HDE retail association, called on the German government to lift the Sunday driving ban this weekend to allow logistics firms to bring forward some shipments and avoid “supply chaos”.
Leader of the EVG union Martin Burkert said industrial action was “a sharp sword that we also handle very responsibly”.
Pointing to the fact that Germany has few strike days compared with other countries, Mr Burkert said the dispute pursued by EVG and the Ver.di union centred on demands for pay and collective agreements.
Meanwhile, Loadstar sources in France have warned that strikers and protesters in France do not have to give notice, as they do in other countries. This means that although the unions have not notified the authorities of further action, the expectation is that more protests are coming.
The source said that trucks around the Calais region have been delayed by protestors blocking roads and motorways and this could escalate.
Monaco-based website Connexion is reporting that some refineries in France, primarily in the south, have been affected by the disputes, with some regions limiting fuel sales, and some flights affected by air traffic controller disruption. Again the disruption has the potential to spread with little warning.
Yesterday’s protests in France caused disruption to freight, according to ferry operator DFDS. Director Chris Parker told The Loadstar: “We have had some instances where customers’ journeys have been affected when protesters block the roads.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and contacting freight and passenger customers with advice about what is open and what is not. At the moment, we don’t have issues on any of our routes.”
While P&O Ferries also reported no issues and advised freight operators that should disruptions occur, it would advise customers via Twitter and by text.
In the UK, a port of Dover spokeperson advised: “The port is still open, with minimal disruption expected. Please plan ahead, allow extra time for your journey and check with your ferry operator before travelling.”
A spokesperson for Getlink, the freight train service through the tunnel to the UK said that the service had not suffered a great deal of disruption up to now.