Dockworker shortage shuts California ports

Dockworker shortage shuts California ports

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are some of the busiest in the United States
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are some of the busiest in the United States. Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP/File
Source: AFP

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Two of the busiest ports in the United States were shuttered Friday because not enough dockworkers turned up for work, a shippers representative said.

The shutdown comes as part of a long-rumbling dispute between shippers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) focused on pay and the role of automation.

"The largest ILWU local on the West Coast has taken a concerted action to withhold labor at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, resulting in widespread worker shortages," said a statement from the Pacific Maritime Association, the umbrella group that represents shippers.

"The workers who did show up were released because there was not a full complement of ILWU members to operate the terminals.

"The action by the Union has effectively shut down the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach -- the largest gateway for maritime trade in the United States."

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The ILWU insisted the only no-shows were those marking the Christian festival of Good Friday.

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"Cargo operations are ongoing as longshore workers at the Ports remain on the job," a union statement said.

The two ports -- known as the San Pedro Bay Port Complex -- move around 20 million shipping containers' worth of goods every year, with a value of over $300 billion.

The complex is the ninth biggest port in the world by market share, port figures show, and plays a key role in keeping global supply chains moving.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, ports around the globe gummed up, as shippers struggled to meet demand for stay-at-home goods, a problem that persisted as countries opened up.

Economists said the slow-to-shift backlog was a contributing factor in the inflation that has gripped much of the world in the last 18 months as consumers demand products that aren't arriving fast enough.

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Source: AFP

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