Based on the figures, this is the worst third quarter ever in terms of container volumes at the port.
Specifically, 149,000 TEU were handled during July-September 2017 period, against 207,000 TEU handled in the same quarter last year.
The drop is being reported even though the port has been free of industrial action and labor disputes.
The low level of container handling resumes the trend reported earlier this year when volume statistics for the first six months of 2017 showed the negative impact the conflict between the Dockworkers’ Union and APM Terminals Gothenburg had on container trade.
At that point, volumes were down 22 per cent, the biggest fall in the history of the port.
“Despite the fact that the container terminal has had the capacity to handle freight with virtually no disruption throughout the whole of the third quarter, we still saw a huge fall in volumes. It is obvious that industry’s confidence in the port’s container terminal has yet to be restored,” said Magnus Kårestedt, Gothenburg Port Authority Chief Executive.
According to Kårestedt, the crisis of confidence can be attributed to the underlying threat of industrial action. In conditions such as these, many companies are opting for more expensive and less effective transport solutions to assure their goods flows.
“I understand their hesitation about returning their freight flows to the Port of Gothenburg after prolonged periods marked by labor disputes, embargoes, strikes and lockouts. There must be a long-term solution to the situation if we are to regain the industry’s confidence,” said Kårestedt.
The conflict between the operator, APMT, and the Dockworkers’ Union has been ongoing since May 2016. It has been kept alive despite the fact that APMT has signed the industry’s collective agreement. This has prompted the Swedish government to set up an inquiry to review the rules under which the Swedish labor market operates.
“In the light of the fact that mediators at the Swedish National Mediation Office gave up after all their offers were rejected by the Dockworkers’ Union, this inquiry is vitally important. Not only for the Port of Gothenburg – many other Swedish ports are struggling with the same basic issues.”
In contrast, other freight categories at the port are doing well.
During the third quarter, 63,000 new cars passed through the port – up 24 percent on the same period last year. Ro-ro traffic rose by nine percent. Cruise calls were also up, by 7 pct.
The handling of oil and energy products fell by 15 percent, which was the result of a scheduled maintenance stoppage at one of the refineries during part of this period.