A large-scale public sector strike began in the United Kingdom yesterday. More than half a million workers from various sectors will strike until today over labor disputes such as wages and working conditions. The strikes affect (air) ports and government offices, and severe logistics delays are expected. "Yesterday, we didn't experience any inconvenience, but we were told of possible delays today," says Floor Klapwijk of the Dutch company DLG DailyFresh Logistics.
Alain Tulpin of the Belgian Tulpin Group, which specializes in air freight to the United Kingdom and elsewhere, also noticed little disruption. "Transport to England was barely disrupted, with the return trip having zero problems," he says. The British media are calling this the largest strike in 12 years, and British Customs advised against shipping goods to the U.K. on these days.
There were also protests against the 'anti-strike' bill passed by Britain's House of Commons on Tuesday. It aims to enforce minimum service levels in some sectors, with some workers facing dismissal if they refuse to work when required on strike days. Will its implementation be delayed for a while, or will Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government enforce this law? That question remains.
"We informed our customers about the situation on Monday," adds Floor. "That lets them keep their clients up to day regarding delays. So far, we've not experienced any inconvenience at the ports or Eurotunnel. Still, we're keeping a close eye on the situation and constantly monitoring the corridors to prepare our customers."
"We use eight different corridors, but, of course, the border regulations apply everywhere. If we see there are going to be significant delays somewhere, we'll begin looking for alternatives. Fortunately, by using multiple corridors, we're delivering on time for the time being and continue to load and ship as usual," Floor explains.
Talks held on Monday to avert the strike action failed, reports the British media. The strikes were declared in principle until today (February 2), but intentions vary from union to union. However, the unions held mass, coordinated strikes on Wednesday to bring home their message.
The United Kingdom is, after Germany, the most important sales market for the Dutch fruit and vegetable sector. "It's hard to predict how the situation will evolve. Fortunately, it's not the Dutch season now but the Spanish one. They and countries outside the E.U. do direct trade with the U.K. It's a quieter time for us with no big spikes, which helps," Floor concludes.
For more information:
DLG DailyFresh Logistics
Tel: +31 (0) 884 286 690
Tel: +32 (0) 598 06 633