“Walkout Wednesday” is the latest coordinated labor strike in the United Kingdom and both sides are using inflation as the reason for their respective defenses. On the labor side, the wage increase offer is not enough to offset the inflationary pressures impacting its pocketbooks. On the employer side, it doesn’t want to increase wages any higher for fear that will stoke additional inflation.
The answer to this battle lies in which side you support.
For those in the logistics industry, this latest “fair wage” battle will slow down customer deliveries. On Wednesday, more than 130,000 civil and public servants who are part of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) — the sixth-largest trade union in the U.K. — will walk out in what it is calling the largest strike in civil service in decades.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka is warning these protests could continue throughout the year if the pay raise stays at 2%.
“We’ve been given a 2% pay rise when food inflation was 16% last week,” Serwotka said. “Forty-thousand civil servants use food banks and 45,000 claim in-work benefits because they’re so poor. The [British] government can stop these strikes today by putting money on the table for our members. If they don’t, our action will escalate.”
Crane Worldwide Logistics posted an alert to its customers on how the strike will affect all ports and border crossings.
“It will impact mainly border inspections and then, afterward, trucking,” said Andreas Braun, Crane’s Europe, Middle East and Africa ocean product director. “Expect no more than three days in overall delays. This just adds to the ongoing disruption at the ports and airports in the United Kingdom.”
Braun told American Shipper that Crane is advising clients to be prepared for potential disruption and longer queues at ports and inland border facilities.
“Pickup and drop-off from containers might be delayed by two days,” he said.
The most valuable component in the flow of trade — people — is flexing its muscles again. We saw this same clash play out in 2022 in Europe and the U.K. as those labor strikes impacted the flow of trade for months.
While the effect of the strike will be short term, if there are additional ones that are longer in duration, trade will be impacted. Port congestion will then follow, fueling additional inflation.
The reality of the situation is this: Trade, which is tied to economic prosperity, always begins and ends with people.