Maersk warns about logistics disruption if Felixstowe strike goes ahead
The strike at the Port of Felixstowe could lead to significant disruption, Maersk said.
In a notice published today, the shipping giant warned customers to expect “significant operational delays,” urging them to have contingency plans ready.
“Our teams continue working hard on planning appropriate contingencies and expect to share concrete details and actions we are taking,” Maersk said.
Talks between deck workers and the port’s operators have resumed today – a last-minute bid to avoid significant disruption to Britain’s logistics and supply chain sectors.
Felixstowe is the UK’s biggest freight port, as 48 per cent of all containers brought into the UK pass through it.
Around 1,900 members of the union Unite are said to walk out for eight days – from 21 to 29 August – after they turned down a 7 per cent pay rise on Friday on the basis it was “significantly below” the current retail price index.
The port said it continued to “actively seek” a solution, while the government has urged both parties to reach an agreement.
Maersk’s concerns were echoed by the British International Freight Association (BIFA), the trade body for UK freight forwarders.
BIFA’s director general Robert Keen said that any disruption was likely to cause problems to its members as well as lead to disruption for the international supply chains they manage.
“The overall impact of the planned strike, if it goes ahead, will depend on whether it results in shipping lines cancelling calls at the port or transferring those calls to other ports in the UK; or the near continent,” added Keen.
“UK businesses should work with their freight forwarding partners to establish whether alternative arrangements can be made for cargoes that were headed to or from Felixstowe to transit other ports in the UK/near continent.”
The same was argued by Logistics UK, who called for avoiding disruption.
Despite concerns, the British Ports Association said a potential strike would not have “a prolonged impact” on the movement of goods.
“The UK ports industry has demonstrated its resilience in the face of various challenges during the course of the pandemic and the resulting fallout which has affected the global supply chain,” a spokesperson told City A.M. yesterday.