The German logistics sector has been under pressure for over a week. Deutsche Bahn has been suffering from strikes alongside mass demonstrations that have blocked roads into cities.
Last week the German train driver’s union, known as the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer or ‘GDL’, held a strike which brought passenger services almost to a halt. However, Deutsche Bahn asserted that cargo operations were not severely affected, stating that “thanks to the commitment of DB Cargo employees, all necessary supply-related trains for the German economy could be run. There were no disruptions to supply chains”. If true, this is remarkable as the rest of the rail network was badly affected.
However, the threat from the German rail unions seems to remain. So far Deutsche Bahn has rejected their demands for a reduction in hours and increases in wages, something that has prompted the GDL union to state that “if there is no apparent willingness to engage in substantive negotiations, further strikes are to be expected, which could go beyond the strike that ends today.”
This industrial action poses a significant threat to the German economy. As Deutsche Bahn points-out, the “GDL strike particularly hits DB Cargo and therefore the German economy because, unlike many competitors, DB Cargo is a network railway and does not just offer simple shuttle services. DB Cargo operates in particular with single wagon transport in the tight production cycle of industrial companies, factories, steel blast furnaces or power plants”. This refers to the intermodal ‘area transport’ model that is widely used in Germany, where rail is used to run trunk-routes that interface with road services at the local level.
In addition, German roads in large cities are being blocked by persistent political protests by farmers. There have been incidents of motorways being blocked. Much of this is concentrated around Berlin but some areas of western Germany are being affected by protests which seem likely to continue. German trucking operations seem to have suffered from little disruption so far but the threat of problems does exist.
It is unclear what impact all of these protests are having on the logistics market in Germany. If Deutsche Bahn is to be believed, the effects have been minimal. However, the threat of continuing action remains, and they might effect logistics operations both domestically within Germany but also locations such as ports and neighbouring economies.
Author: Thomas Cullen
Source: Ti Insights