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Maersk: Port strike would be devastating

The first port strike in 35 years could become a reality by the end of the month on the U.S. East- and Gulf Coasts, with catastrophic consequences for the entire shipping industry. Danish A.P. Moeller – Maersk could be hit with double strength, as the shipping company both transports massive volumes of cargo to and from the coast, while operating container terminals in seven ports through its subsidiary, APM Terminals.

The employers’ association, the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) wants increased productivity in order to strengthen the ports’ competitiveness, but the port workers’ union, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), balks at the employers’ demands for new rules for work hours and payment for over time.

The most recent negotiations collapsed on August 22nd, and since then the two parties have been communicating solely through public messages of stern prose. In letter dated August 30th, the ILA asked the employers to present a “finalized” proposal for the union’s wage commission to vote on, but the USMX refuses, citing the lack of negotiations. If nothing happens, 15,000 port workers will go on strike October 1st, when the current agreement expires.

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