Trendwatch: Rail strike in Canada likely as 'essential services' hurdle seems to have tumbled; U.S. port strike fears grow as ILA halts negotiations with USMX; European Union to ramp up tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles

Rail strike in Canada likely as 'essential services' hurdle seems to have tumbled

Final submissions to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) reveal neither rail companies nor union believe “essential services” will be disrupted by a strike, which could pave the way for action.

On 14 June, the CIRB took final submissions from Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC), the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and other affected organisations, to make a final decision on whether a strike should be allowed to go ahead.

In the submission documents, shared with The Loadstar, both rail operators and the union conclude that rail services could not be deemed as essential. 


U.S. port strike fears grow as ILA halts negotiations with USMX

Raising the specter of a labor dispute paralyzing container traffic at U.S. ports on the East and Gulf coasts, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) on June 10 announced it had suspended talks with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) that had been scheduled for the next day. The decision arises amid ongoing negotiations of local agreements under a coast-wide master contract, set to expire on September 30, 2024.

The ILA said that it canceled master contract talks with the employers’ organization “after discovering that APM Terminals and Maersk Line are utilizing an Auto Gate system, which autonomously processes trucks without ILA labor. This system, initially identified at the Port of Mobile, Ala., is reportedly being used in other ports as well.”

In a statement released June 11, USMX said that it had met with the ILA for local contract negotiations over the last two weeks.


European Union to ramp up tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles

The European Union (EU) has revealed plans to add tariffs of up to 38.1% on electric vehicles imported from China.

The new tariffs were announced last week and will be implemented on July 4, although the level of tariff varies between companies.

Manufacturers will also have the chance to appeal the level of tariff being implemented.

Those that co-operated in an EU investigation into the Chinese electric vehicle market will face a 21% tariff and those that did not face 38.1%.


Snap election in France prompts labour unions to postpone strikes at ports

The surprise announcement by French president Emmanuel Macron last week to call an election has led to dock and port worker unions postponing a series of strikes this month, which threatened to bring chaos to box ports like Le Havre and Marseille.

A 24-hour stoppage on 7 June saw Le Havre’s ro-ro, bulk and container terminals reportedly blocked by dockers, leading to four ship calls being cancelled and a further 18 delayed, while at Marseille-Fos, an estimated 600 dockers and other  workers blocked the main entry point to the box terminal.

Further one-day strikes had been called for 21 and 25 June, along with four-hour walkouts on three days of each week this month – all in protest at pension reform that increased the statutory retirement age in France.


Canada Border Agents to Vote on New Labor Deal by July 4

The union representing Canada's border agents will soon start voting to ratify a new tentative labor deal.

The agreement between the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and Canada's Treasury Board was reached on June 11, following a week of mediated talks. Details of the deal were released on June 14, with border agents getting a 14.8% wage increase over four years, retroactive to June 2022. According to PSAC, those rates exceed increases that will be handed out to several other law enforcement agencies across Canada over that period, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


Lufthansa Cargo launches freighter operations from Munich

Lufthansa Cargo is expanding its operations at the southern German hub and will be operating freighters from the hub for the first time from 6 July 2024.

An A321 freighter will connect Munich with Istanbul Airport twice a week, complementing the existing belly network from Munich. The new freighter connection is planned every Saturday and Sunday with flight numbers LH8350 / LH8351 and LH8346 / LH8347. Lufthansa Cargo customers can book their shipments on the new route with immediate effect.


'At least 65 countries' now affected as Houthi Red Sea attacks continue

Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea have cut box throughput in the region by 90% and, amid escalating insurance costs, it seems it will take more than naval support to lure carriers back to the region any time soon.

According to a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, re-routing vessels around Africa has added some 11,000 nautical miles and $1m in fuel costs to voyages, but from a financial perspective, this compares favourably with taking Red Sea routes in crisis conditions.


US airlines lose $1.6 billion in first quarter 2024, a decrease over first quarter 2023

U.S. airline financial reports are filed quarterly with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for additional first-quarter (Tables 1-6) financial results.

1Q 2024 Results for All 25 Scheduled U.S. Passenger Airlines

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported a first-quarter 2024 after-tax net loss of $1.6 billion and a pre-tax operating loss of $290 million.


ACP plans new reservoir to avoid repeat of Panama Canal restrictions

A new reservoir at the Panama Canal to improve reliability could be ready within four to five years of construction, but there are regulatory and social hurdles to overcome first. 

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has been weighing-up “long-term solutions” to bolster the resilience of its key shipping route following last year’s El Nino-induced drought, which saw a reduction in daily transits.

The canal has a design capacity of 36 transits a day, although this is typically between 34 and 38. The weight restrictions caused serious bottlenecks for shipping. Late last year ACP warned that daily transits could fall to as few as 18 by February, but mitigation efforts saw 20 as the lowest number.