Travel disruption and strikes both home and abroad pose a risk to UK supply chains

Mon 1 Aug 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

UK Ports Supply Chains

Strike threats and travel disruption at key ports in the UK and overseas are threatening British supply chains as importers begin to enter the shipping industry’s “peak season” in the run up to Christmas.

Felixstowe port staff, represented by trade union Unite, voted to strike last week over a pay dispute, while Liverpool dockers are also currently being balloted.

Dates have not been announced, but the strikes will add to the recent disruption caused by industrial action in Britain’s transport sector, including on the railways, according to The Telegraph.

UK government plans

Ministers and senior officials met on Friday (29 July) for the second time following travel disruption at the Port of Dover last week to discuss new plans to ease future disruption and support UK industry.

A new package of measures was announced, including:

  • Contingency transport measures ahead of the Commonwealth games
  • Traffic enforcement around Dover and Folkestone
  • The establishment of a new UK-French passenger technical working group

Sky News reports that the working group plans to meet weekly throughout the summer.

European strikes

The Loadstar reports that the potential resumption of industrial action at German ports could also have a knock on effect on British supply chains, with carriers already having to navigate heightened congestion at North European hub ports.

German and Dutch ports are bogged down in contract negotiations with German labour unions which have “not moved ahead favourably,” according to Port Technology.

At the same time, Antwerp and Rotterdam ports are entering the holiday season and facing labour shortages.

More Chinese lockdowns

A new outbreak of Covid in Wuhan will also cause alarm in the international shipping industry.

The city is now back under lockdown, with China still pursuing a zero-Covid strategy, reports the BBC.

According to the Loadstar, cases in Shenzhen and Shanghai pose the risk of further manufacturing and shipping disruption with ports in China facing “severe” yard and berth congestion.