Port of Gothenburg: Container Volumes Fall to Record Low amid Labour Dispute

The labour dispute at the Port of Gothenburg has led to a 22 percent drop in container volumes shipped during the first half of this year when compared to the corresponding figures from last year, the port authority said.

The “unprecedented fall in the container volumes”, as the port described it, is said to be the biggest decrease ever in the port’s history.

As disclosed, the decline was particularly noticeable in June, with volumes down by 60 per cent. Furthermore, container handling is said to be currently at a level not seen since 2001.

Magnus Kårestedt, Gothenburg Port Authority Chief Executive Officer, attributes the fall in container volumes to the ongoing labour dispute between section 4 of the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union, and the container terminal operator, APM Terminals, which is now into its second year.

According to Kårestedt, the dispute continued despite the fact that APMT has signed and is a party to the industry’s collective agreement.

The situation has led the government to take action and set up an enquiry to review labour market rules.

“The consequences for Swedish trade are immense, as several services to key markets have been withdrawn, including direct services that are vital to both imports and exports. A great deal of freight has been shifted from sea to road, investments are failing to materialise, and jobs have disappeared,” he added.

Furthermore, the port authority noted that, based on the preliminary reports, the figures for July were also at a historic low.

“The upward trend has been broken and we would need to go as far back as 2001 to find a corresponding volume level,” a statement from the port reads.

“It is painfully clear how the dispute has harmed the port and industry. We have had an incredible rate of growth over the years here at the largest port in Scandinavia, and billions have been invested to serve Swedish trade optimally,” said Kårestedt.

“It is unreasonable that a group of dockworkers in Gothenburg can block trade flows for an entire country in this way. National mediators have attempted to resolve the dispute on repeated occasions. APM Terminals has accepted all the proposals put forward by the mediators whilst the Dockworkers’ Union has rejected them. I welcome the government’s enquiry although legislation takes time and in the interim we need an immediate local solution that will allow the port to regain its credibility,” Kårestedt continued.

On the other hand, the growth trend in other types of freight at the Port of Gothenburg continues.

The number of ro-ro units shipped during the first half of the year totalled 291,000 – up seven per cent on 2016. During the first six months of the year, 137,000 new cars were exported or imported, a 40 per cent increase on the corresponding period last year, due largely to the success of Volvo.

Volumes at the Energy Port have also risen – up seven per cent when compared to the first six months of 2016, the port data shows.

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