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European Supply Chain Update

2% of global shipping capacity left out at sea whilst German ports anticipate strike action

Following on from our most recent European update in June, the latest report from the Institute of World Economics in Germany has revealed that the general trend in shipping for June was slightly up, however, a mixture of European export bottlenecks, high costs and continued congestion have hindered trade in a “very rare” situation for Europe’s ports.

Due to the situation across Europe’s ports, over 2% of global shipping capacity was stuck in the North Sea during June, with no available berths, a problem also contributing to a 20% drop in the volume of container ships in the Red Sea. The looming 48-hour strikes across German ports are likely to only contribute to the precarious situation.

With the holiday season beginning across Europe’s key ports, we are now starting to see a reduction in labour availability, making it unlikely for congestion levels to subside in the coming weeks.


See below for a country by country update of key ports:


Rotterdam European Container Terminals (ECT)
  • Temporary labour shortages are being experienced with the start of holiday season, although holiday cover will be introduced from this week to support throughout summer.

  • COVID-19 situation is being monitored closely following positive COVID-19 tests within the ECT workforce.

  • Long dwell times are being seen for transshipment and import cargo. 

  • High 40’ yard utilisation at 81% and critical reefer capacity.

  • Off-quay storage for sanctioned Russian cargo is at 100%.

Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG)
  • Similar to ECT, labour shortages are expected entering the holiday season.
  • RWG is not accepting any empty containers as a preventive measure as yard utilisation reaches 90%.
  • Regular feeder services are working to keep up with demand between main shipping vessels.
  • 8 day cargo acceptance time prior to sailing.
Antwerp PSA Terminal
  • Although labour levels are currently stable, it is likely that the terminal will see reduced availability leading into the holiday season.
  • Yard utilisation remains high, averaging 83%.

German dock workers are expected to begin a 48-hour strike starting on Thursday, 14th July, following a breakdown in wage negotiations with employers.

The strike, which will affect major German shipping hubs such as Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven, will undoubtedly have knock-on effects throughout Europe as cargo backs up on shipments bound for, or through, Germany.

Around 12,000 workers are expected to take part in the industrial action which will stretch from 06:00 on Thursday, 14th until 06:00 Saturday, 16th July, as the dispute over wages remains at an impasse after six rounds of negotiations.

It is reported that throughout the negotiations, Germany’s ports have seen a deterioration in operating levels due to negativity surrounding the potential situation, whilst cargo has been backing up on quay as well as services being cancelled by rail due to build up of import trains. This has meant that the ports have seen severe delays and missed shipments.

Hamburg Container Terminal Altenwerder
  • Labour shortages caused by industrial action.
  • Transshipment cargo will only be accepted if the main shipping service is scheduled within 10 days of arrival.
  • Rail cargo must have a scheduled vessel ETA of no more than 1 week to be accepted.
  • Road freight exports will only be accepted within 48 hours of the scheduled vessel.
  • Low yard availability with 90% utilisation.

Strike action is still affecting many French ports and various other areas of industry. The strikes are being called by various industries and trade unions in response to rising inflation as workers call for wage rises.

The strikes are also having an effect on French rail services as SNCF workers take part.

Some capacity is now limited during the summer holiday period.

Le Havre
  • An increased volume of vessels moving through the port is causing labour shortages and slight delays.
  • Continued weekly 5-hour strikes are having a minimal impact on overall operations.

For more information or transport solutions into and across Europe, please contact us


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