The labour dispute at the Port of Gothenburg has led to an unprecedented fall in container volumes. During the first six months of the year, the number of containers shipped fell by 22 per cent, the biggest decrease ever in the history of the port, particularly noticeable in June, with volumes down by 60 per cent. Container handling is now at a level not seen since 2001.
Magnus Kårestedt, Gothenburg Port Authority chief executive, attributes the fall in container volumes to the ongoing labour dispute, which is now into its second year.
“The consequences for Swedish trade are immense, as several services to key markets have been withdrawn, including direct services that are vital to both imports and exports.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.”
Preliminary reports show that the figures for July were also at a historic low.
According to the port, the dispute between the operator, APMT, and section 4 of the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union began back in May 201 and “has 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.
“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,” continued Mr Kårestedt.
Other freight categories at the Port of Gothenburg are continuing to increase. 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.