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Hamburg Port Strikes: Labor Strikes of Public Employees in Germany have Effectively Closed the Port of Hamburg

Felixstowe Port Strike – Day 3 Update

Update March 29, 2023

The Port of Hamburg is recovering quickly from their 2-day closure, but there are still impacts. While export dwell has consistently been decreasing the past 3 days, peaking at a median of 6 days, import dwell has been consistently rising. As of March 28th, the median dwell for imports is 2.9. While we are seeing an increase, this is not an unheard-of dwell time for imports in the Port of Hamburg and customers are not expected to feel massive repercussions from the strike.  

The vessels incoming and outgoing to and from the Port of Hamburg have returned to normal levels after a small spike on March 24th when the port re-opened.

Update March 27, 2023

As mentioned, the strike ended on March 24, 2023, and port operations resumed, illustrated in the vessel count chart below. We do see a spike in vessel traffic on the 24th, which was driven predominately by the vessels waiting outside the port.  

Over the next week, expect to see a small uptick in dwell times, impacting export dwell times more heavily than import. Import dwell is less impacted because the vessels were dwelling out of the port, while port dwell starts tracking once the vessel arrives. We are seeing an increase to 6.1 days already for export dwell times.

While this strike has ended, labor negotiations are still ongoing and there is a potential for further striking. project44 will continue to monitor the situation in Germany closely.

Update March 24, 2023

The labor strike in Germany was ended this morning. This was considered a “warning strike” as public sector employees negotiate a wage increase with the government. While operations are scheduled to resume today at the Port of Hamburg, the negotiation is not completed and there is potential for future strikes.

As a result of 2 full days of suspended port operations, anticipate an increase in both import and export dwell as the vessels in the port are processed and vessels waiting outside the port are unloaded.

March 23, 2023

The port of Hamburg is Germany’s busiest port and the 2nd busiest port in all of Europe. Recent strikes by the public employees over a requested 10.5% wage increase have closed the port for all departing vessels, which will result in a lack of space for the 18 containers vessels scheduled to arrive at the port. The strike is expected to continue through March 24, 2023. project44 is closely monitoring how the strike is impacting port operations.   

Import and Export Dwell Time at the Port of Hamburg

March 22nd had a small uptick in dwell times compared to the 21st (16% for exports and 7% for imports), but it has not exceeded the recent high of 6.1 days for exports or 3.4 days for imports. This number is expected to continue rising as the strike impacts escalate.

TEU Capacity and Vessel Count In and Out of Hamburg

TEU Capacity both in and out of the Port of Hamburg saw a drop on March 22, 2023 as a result of the strikes. There was a 39% decrease in total TEU capacity from the 21st to the 22nd. This downward trend is anticipated to continue throughout the duration of the strike.   

We are also seeing 35% fewer vessels coming in and out of the port. This number is projected to drop to 0 in the next few days as shipments are stopped.

Key Takeaways

  • The port of Hamburg is currently closed for large vessels due to labor strikes
  • While full impacts have not yet been seen, there is already an uptick in dwell times and a decrease in vessels and TEU capacity at the Port of Hamburg
  • The strike is expected to continue through March 24th, while it is ongoing port conditions are expected to get worse
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