- The Spanish government's attempt to alter laws on labor and ports governance has led local stevedores' unions to organize strikes for nine non-consecutive days this month at the Port of Algeciras, American Shipper reported last week.
- The strikes will affect supply chains using the Asia-Europe and Middle East trade lanes as terminal slowdowns are expected. Maersk Line will be particularly affected as it operates on 22 of the 42 shipping services at the port, per the report.
- As a result, Maersk released a contingency plan for its clients, which includes port diversions and additional transshipments. The strikes are planned for March 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17 20, 22 and 24, during odd hours.
The Port of Algeciras' location off the Strait of Gibraltar makes it a transshipment hub for cargo traveling through Europe, either by the Suez Canal or from Africa. Currently, seven weekly services travel operated by Maersk Line (3), MSC (1), CMA CGM (2) and COSCO Shipping (1) call on U.S. ports from Algeciras.
While the strikes are most likely to affect European supply chains, Maersk Line's moves to reroute their services and shows a port slowdown's potential impact on carriers' operations and the economy. Roughly 14% of the port's daily trade is comprised of cargo ships, and though the risk of port strikes are not common in the U.S., it should be noted the last major port shutdown cost the nation up to $1.9 billion each day. Delays and slow customer service on freight shipments may be expected during the month of March, but beyond planning and awareness, there is little that can be done to adjust to the situation.
Regardless, the issue highlights how threatening a port strike could be for any country, and the power organized labor has when it chooses to make its voice heard. Just last week, the U.S. avoided a port shutdown that could have been far more damaging.