Strikes All Over the World Worsen a Supply Chain Crisis

Korean Success

An eight-day strike by truckers in South Korea who demanded to extend pay guarantees taking into account a surge in fuel prices ended on June 15. Thousands of truckers were on strike in Busan, one of the world’s largest ports, which is a Korea’s window to the world.

The truckers’ strike was successful as the government met their demands, but it cost the South Korean industry $1.2 billion. The waiting time for import containers at the port of Busan was more than 14 days after a week of the strike compared to 4 days at the beginning of the strike, according to Visibility Project 44 cited by The Guardian.

The strike could have significant implications for the global electronics and automotive industry. Korea is home to leading chip manufacturers.

Strike Threats in Europe

The unionized workers staged warning strikes at the German ports in the second week of June. The ports of Hamburg, Emden, Bremen, Wilhelmshaven, and Bremerhaven were affected. The Ver.di trade union is leading the negotiations with the Central Association of German Seaport Companies on wage increases.

The workers could also stage a strike in Belgium. The cost of living and fuel prices in Belgium, as across Europe, are increasing. Strike participants could demand higher pay and object to the current law, which does not give workers the freedom to negotiate a wage increase.

USA Also Braces for Strikes

The workers could also stage a strike in the USA. Employers and trade unions representing 22,000 workers at 30 US ports on the West Coast have been negotiating since early May. A collapse of the negotiations would risk a strike and work stoppage at the US largest ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, that would snarl US supply chains.

The ports on the West Coast have experienced severe congestion, which resulted in container shortages and increased freight rates all over the world. The strike would seriously worsen the crisis.

If employers and trade unions on several continents fail to agree at the earliest possible time, a wave of strikes could worsen a supply chain crisis.