October 16, 2021

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Shipping workers warn of the impending collapse of global transportation systems

A collapse of global transportation systems looms due to the persistent impacts of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In an open letter, a coalition of unions representing maritime workers around the world warns of impending collapse as the pandemic’s fragmented and inconsistent restrictions around the world wreak havoc on international shipping.

Shipping clerks write, “We are seeing unprecedented global outages and delays and shortages of essential goods including electronics, food, fuel and medical supplies.

“Now we can see the impact of almost two years of tension, which particularly affected sea and road transport workers, but also aircraft crews.

“Their continued mistreatment is adding pressure to an already ruined global supply chain. At the height of the crew change crisis, 400,000 seafarers were unable to leave their ships, with some seafarers working up to 18 months beyond their initial contracts.

“Flights have been limited and aviation workers have faced inconsistent boundaries, travel, restrictions and vaccine restrictions / requirements. Further and systematic arrests at the road borders forced the truck drivers to wait, sometimes weeks, before being able to complete their journeys and return home ”.

The coalition of trade unions called on governments to grant freedom of movement to transport workers and give them priority for vaccinations.

Signatories of the letter include the heads of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The coalition’s warning comes as supply chain arrears leave many cargo ships idle outside US ports. This exacerbates delays caused by a nationwide shortage of truckers that threatens to derail the holiday shopping season.

Retailers also warned of shopping chaos over the holiday season as backlogs in supply chains saw more than 70 container ships lining up off the California coast and another 60 off the coast of New York. (Related: West Coast ports are clogged with about 60 container ships still waiting to dock; supply lines continue to experience disruptions.)

Traffic jams in ports are a persistent problem this year

Lines off the coast of Los Angeles are expected to cause shortages across the country as the port complex processes 40 percent of all shipping containers arriving in the United States. they have reached the longest period since the start of the pandemic. It has been a persistent problem this year.

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In March, a cargo ship traffic jam outside the port of Long Beach caused severe delays in everything from construction and plumbing to retail and design.

“Anything that comes in from overseas, where it used to be eight weeks ago, is around 16 weeks to 20 weeks is what they’re citing,” Capitol Hardware President and CEO Alan Bleecker said at the time. “This goes for anything. I feel it with the appliances. I’m listening to it with the lumber. I feel it with drywall, steel.

Now, shoe and apparel companies are the ones scrambling to deliver their merchandise from overseas in time for the holiday shopping season. Nike admitted that they have trouble doing this.

Car manufacturers in the United States are also affected by the congestion in ports. General Motors said it will cut production at its plants in Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee due to the shortage of microchips. Ford Motor is also reducing truck production.

“There are no people on site to move the containers and chassis where they need to go. So you have a lot of stuff piling up in ports and warehouses. When that happens, the harder it is to get things ready to move, ”says John Drake, VP of Supply Chain Strategy for the Chamber of Commerce. CBS.

The Port of Long Beach is testing a 24/7 pilot program to expand the hours for overnight pickup when there is less traffic in the region. FedEx said it is rerouting more than 600,000 packages a day as it scrambles to cope with the labor shortage plaguing businesses in the United States (Related: Rising Shipping Costs, Port Bottlenecks Threatening Global Economic Recovery) .

Prices go up as supplies fail to keep up with demands

The congestion in the ports had a direct impact on the prices of artificial Christmas trees. Balsam Hill, a California-based artificial tree company, is selling its four-and-a-half-foot tall Grand Canyon cedar tree for $ 499 this year. That’s $ 199 more than the tree’s same cost in 2020. .

“We have never raised prices anywhere close to that in our history and we will make a lot less money,” says Balsam Hill CEO Mac Harman at Wall Street newspaper.

“For the first time for us, the catalog was out and we had no products to sell. Our shipments did not arrive on time. We are still trying to figure out exactly where the products are. Are they still in the water or stuck in ports? If this continues to happen, we may close the business. “

Analysts have warned that problems with supply chains and shortages could last until 2023. The warning comes when Costco announces that it will charter three container ships to import products from Asia to the United States and Canada in an effort to alleviate the supply chain problems.

Costco was forced to restore limits on purchases of toilet paper, paper towels and bottled water starting September 23. “We are putting some limitations on key items like bathroom issues, rolled towels and Kirkland Signature water,” said Richard Galanti, Costco’s CFO.

It says supply chains are affected by many factors, including a lack of readily available raw materials, components and ingredients in some industries. As a result, major brands are demanding longer delivery times. In some cases, the supply is abundant, but getting them to stores is a problem due to the shortage of manpower.

Follow Pandemic.news for more news and information regarding the persistent impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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