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Felixstowe strike sparks further supply chain woes for the UK

British mainstream media headlines are awash with empty supermarket shelf pictures and concerns about Christmas shopping on day two of a planned eight-day strike at the country’s largest container port.

Nearly 2,000 workers downed tools yesterday at the port of Felixstowe on the east coast of England, demanding improved pay. The strike comes as another British port, Liverpool, plans similar protests and the nation’s trains have also been hit by militant action.

The port of Felixstowe, operated by Hutchison Ports, handles more than 4m teu per year – making the strike an impact on roughly 11,000 teu per day, according to data from Sea-Intelligence. The volumes handled, account for just under half of the container volumes in the UK.

“The impact will be felt on the supply chains in the UK for all types of goods. Significant amounts of import cargo to the UK are likely to be discharged on the European continent,” Sea-Intelligence noted in its most recent weekly report.

Lars Jensen, CEO of liner consultancy Vespucci Maritime, suggested via LinkedIn last week: “With such large strikes carriers are likely to have to offload UK-bound cargo in major hubs such as Antwerp and Rotterdam and as a consequence further worsen existing congestion problems on the continent as well.”

A host of carriers including Maersk and Cosco have already told customers they will ditch calls to the UK this week.

Digital freight platform Flexport estimates that it could take 24 days to clear cargo backlogs from the strike at Felixstowe.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This has been trailed for weeks. The mass media hype is of course predicting Armageddon and the end of Christmas as a consequence. This is just nonsense. The container operators have other port options plus the ability to feed in from North Continent ports (assuming they too are not on strike)

    Most of the peak season traffic will already have arrived unless there is a late rush for navel fluff removers and other essentials.

  2. Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious “summer” by this sun of BoJo;
    And all the clouds that lour’d upon Rees-Mogg
    In the deep bosom of the ERG buried.
    Now are Truss’ brows bound with victorious wreaths

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