Port workers in Belgium have started a 24 hour strike today, 24th November 2014, which will end at midnight 00:00hrs, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) advised.
The strike by port laborers has been called by three national unions, in protest over the erosion of index-linked pay rises and tax increases.
Currently the strike is having a major effect on shipping operations in the area with the ports of Zeebrugge, Ghent and Antwerp particularly affected, ISS said.
ISS Belgium has advised that there is a backlog of 65 ships waiting at anchorage to call the Port of Antwerp with a further 12 vessels waiting to depart.
It is anticipated that this current 24 hour strike will be followed by a national general strike on 15th December 2014.
Port of Antwerp’s Press Officer Annik Dirkx confirmed to World Maritime News that activities in the port are disrupted as a consequence of the strike.
“For the moment, there are 50 ships waiting, this is the sum of ships wanting to enter or leave the port,” Dirkx said.” There are people working, but since we have people missing in the whole chain, activities cannot be conducted in a normal way.”
According to Dirkx, terminal operators and port companies did inform their clients over the past few days of the strike, “in order to let them know that less activities were to be expected today and to advise them to concentrate their activities on another day.”
As a result, there has been more activity this weekend at the port, in particular on Saturday, she said, adding that apparently “clients did follow the advice they got from the operators.”
Seven ships are expected to arrive at the port of Ghent and there are three ships in port at the moment due to the pilots’ strike, Johan Bresseleers, Port of Ghent’s Communications Manager told World Maritime News in an emailed statement.
However, the strike has had little impact on the operations in the port of Zeebrugge, Joke Swyngedouw, the port’s Press Communication officer said.
” We have had some delay last night, due to a strike action (pilotage), but all is fully operational again. Ships are leaving and arriving in the port as planned,” he explained.
According to Swyngedouw, the strike is mainly taking place in the port of Antwerp.
“One cargo train with Antwerp and Zeebrugge en route has not been able to arrive in Zeebrugge yet. The marshaling station is experiencing some delay as a consequence,” he added.
World Maritime News Staff