News that a recent longshoremen’s strike had effectively stopped cargo operations at the port of Baltimore, a major hub for foreign car imports into the US, underlined the Strike Club’s latest warning that strikes by stevedores continue to dominate the list of perils causing delays.
The mutual insurer says that a recent analysis of its claims files shows that, in the 2012-2013 policy year, strikes accounted for 16.8% of claims, followed by collision (14.4%), closure of port or sealane (13.6%), and strikes by port workers (also 13.6%). Total net claims for the year were $16.8m, with mutual claims accounting for $12.0m net.
A somewhat similar picture emerges from a review of the five-year period 2008-2013: closure of port or sealane (17.2%), collision (15.1%), strikes by stevedores (13.6%) and by port workers (10.9%).
Several major terminal/port operators have confirmed recently that increasing labour costs are driving port automation forward, the club states, which can only lead to continuing labour unrest and more widespread strike actions.
South America is a particular black spot and, in the last year, a large number of strikes there affected numerous ships entered in the club, generating claims totalling USD4.8m. A strike involving one section of the workforce can quickly spread to others in the transport chain. For example, Argentinian ports were hit by strikes involving boat clerks, customs, dock workers, farmers, seamen, shore personnel, truck drivers and general labour unions.
Chile suffered another bad year for trade disruptions, with some strikes of short duration now being accepted as the norm: strikes by stevedores and port workers, as well as political and civil unrest, all contributed to significant loss of time.