In contrast, other freight categories are doing well.
Earlier this year, volume statistics for the first six months of 2017 clearly showed how the conflict between the Dockworkers’ Union and APM Terminals Gothenburg impacted negatively on container trade. At that point, volumes were down 22 per cent, the biggest fall in the history of the port.
Even though there was no industrial action at the port during the third quarter, new figures show that it was the worst third quarter ever in terms of container volumes, with a 28 per cent fall on the same period in 2016.
“Despite the fact that the container terminal has had the capacity to handle freight with virtually no disruption throughout the whole of the third quarter, we still saw a huge fall in volumes. It is obvious that industry’s confidence in the port’s container terminal has yet to be restored,” said Magnus Kårestedt, Gothenburg Port Authority Chief Executive.
According to Kårestedt, the crisis of confidence can be attributed to the underlying threat of industrial action. In conditions such as these, many companies are opting for more expensive and less effective transport solutions to assure their goods flows.
“I understand their hesitation about returning their freight flows to the Port of Gothenburg after prolonged periods marked by labour disputes, embargoes, strikes and lockouts. There must be a long-term solution to the situation if we are to regain the industry’s confidence,” said Magnus Kårestedt.
The conflict between the operator, APMT, and the Dockworkers’ Union has been ongoing since May 2016. It has been kept alive despite the fact that APMT has signed the industry’s collective agreement. This has prompted the Swedish government to set up an enquiry to review the rules under which the Swedish labour market operates.
Magnus Kårestedt is looking forward with optimism to the publication of the enquiry. “In the light of the fact that mediators at the Swedish National Mediation Office gave up after all their offers were rejected by the Dockworkers’ Union, this enquiry is vitally important. Not only for the Port of Gothenburg – many other Swedish ports are struggling with the same basic issues.”