Due to continued congestion at the Californian port of Oakland on America’s Pacific seaboard Maersk Line stopped taking bookings for cargo bound for the port on two of its services in early February.

Instead, containers were being discharged at Los Angeles or Long Beach. The problems at the port have been caused by worsening conditions between employers and dockworkers. Through the 2M alliance, Mediterranean Shipping Co. ships also began omitting Oakland. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has been targeting ‘foreign’ companies such as Maersk in its latest tirade against the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents ocean carriers, terminal operators and stevedores in labour contract negotiations. There are 72 members altogether, including Maersk, MSC, and most other global carriers. The backlog at the affected ports could last up to two months.

Ports along the coast, which between them handle nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade and more than 70 percent of imports from Asia, have been experiencing severe delays since October, and the effects are rippling far beyond the U.S.A. Japan’s Honda Motor Co. among others, also slowed production for a week at plants in Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, Canada, as parts it ships from Asia have been held up by the dispute, affecting the production lines. Owing to the problems, the port of Oakland alone saw trade drop by 30% in January.

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