The Hong Kong dock worker strike finally ended yesterday with workers agreeing to a pay increase after a month long labor dispute. While there certainly were some vessel delays at the early stages of the strike, we hadn’t noticed any large impact on international shipping between Hong Kong and the United States in recent weeks. In fact, terminal operators were indicating that operations were running at roughly 90% normal efficiency in the previous weeks.
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As we come to the 18th day of the the strike at HIT terminals in Hong Kong, we see disputing claims from both sides. HIT is stating a claim that it is running at 86% of its handling capacity, 90% during peak periods this past Saturday. Trade union representatives denied this claim, indicating that the terminal is still hampered by the strike, only handling 15 containers an hour instead of the standard 25 containers an hour before the strike.
Both sides are set to meet again on Tuesday to try to bring a resolution to this dispute. Shipments are still moving out of Hong Kong. However carriers have adjusted their schedules to account for delays in Hong Kong.
As many U.S. importers and exporters are aware, laborers at Hongkong International Terminal (HIT) have been on strike for the past twelve days. HIT actually runs five of the eleven terminals in Hong Kong. The result of the strike has been a severe slowdown in operations at the terminals. Vessels are being delays roughly three to four days in Hong Kong as it is taking longer for containers to be loaded and unloaded.
One difference between the terminal strike in Hong Kong and past terminal strikes in the United States is that the HIT terminals actually have not completely shut down. They are still operating, albeit at a reduced capacity. Those familiar with longshoremen related strikes in the United States are used to complete terminal shut downs when terminal workers go on strike. Containers continue to be loaded and unloaded from the vessel, just at a slower pace. A number of carriers are diverting vessels to other nearby ports in China.
Importers with shipments from Hong Kong should double-check on the shipping schedules and prepare for a couple of days delay. They may also want to consider shipping directly from a nearby China port (Yantian/Huangpu) to avoid delays in Hong Kong.
Exporters with shipments to Hong Kong should be prepared for possible delays when the vessel arrives.