Labor impacts in world ports quadrupled in 2022 and could bring further disruption in 2023

The impacts of labor interruptions in various ports around the world quadrupled in the past 2022 and could bring further disruption in 2023 due to the prospect of continued economic instability

There were at least 38 cases of protests or strikes affecting port operations last year, more than four times as many as in 2021 when the pandemic upended global trade, according to Crisis24, a maritime security consultancy, Bloomberg reports. There were nine incidents in 2020, according to data beginning in July. Crisis24 changed its tracking system at that time, and comparisons with previous years are not available.

Workers are feeling the pinch of higher fuel and food prices in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while their wages have remained stagnant, union, trucking and forwarding experts said. That encourages employees to demand more from their bosses.

With inflation still looming, supply chains fragile and labor markets tight, workers will remain a volatile force in the new year.“Labor unrest is unlikely to abate after 2023 and may in fact worsen in the likely event that global economic conditions do not improve”a Crisis24 spokesperson said in an email.

Meanwhile, new variants of Covid-19 continue to create bottlenecks in supply chains, also giving workers more leverage over contract negotiations, said John Ahlquist, a professor at the school of global strategy and policy. from the University of California at San Diego.

In 2022, protests and strikes took place at major shipping hubs around the world. South Korean truckers staged work stoppages twice in a six-month period, disrupting container operations in Busan. Congestion in some of Europe's ports reached critical levels after German and British dock workers left.

The South African port operator declared force majeure in October after an employee strike halted exports of fruit, wine and metals. Haiti was paralyzed by violence last fall when gangs seized control of a critical oil terminal and port.

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