Potentially disruptive rail strike averted in US, while, unfortunately, UK braces for more

President Biden’s administration has averted a rail strike that would have caused further issues within the country’s fragile supply chain infrastructure, while rail strikes will recommence  in the UK from October, following the recent deferment of the original announced action.

US shippers and retailers had warned of the negative effects of a rail strike and the ‘11th hour’ contract agreement brokered by Biden’s team shows that the White House was particularly sensitive to the issue, as any strike would have had a hugely negative impact on the pending midterm elections.

Freight railroads and unions reached the tentative contract agreement for 60,000 employees just hours before a strike or lockout could have happened from midnight last Friday.

The deal brokered by the Biden administration averts a strike that had the potential to impact the country’s supply chain, by disrupting the movement of containers inland and the positioning of products throughout the country.

Shippers are relieved that the devastating nationwide rail strike has been avoided, with many applauding the Biden administration’s intervention, at a time when high inflation and economic uncertainty are challenging consumer budgets and putting business resiliency at risk.

Confidence in rail freight transportation is higher in the wake of the tentative deal and with many of the biggest volume shippers moving freight worth billions of dollars via the rail network, their dependency on reliable services is absolute.

The tentative deal means railroads and ports can unwind the contingency plans they had begun to implement ahead of the strike deadline, with inland ports resuming normal operations.

However, train strikes are set to resume in the UK, after unions cancelled their most recent planned action following the Queen’s death, with ASLEF train driver members at 12 rail companies set to strike on Saturday 1st October and Wednesday 5th October. This does also effect the movement of containers throughout the UK and puts further pressure on the inland logistics required for export and import movements, including an upsurge in demand for pure road transport, especially if the strikes are longer than 24 hours.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has also announced a strike for the 1st October among its members at Network Rail and 14 train companies.

Workers are striking over pay and conditions, with unions objecting to pay offers that sit well below inflation.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We will continue to negotiate in good faith, but the employers and government need to understand our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes.”

Previous rail strikes have had restricted direct impact on our container movements, but we monitor the situation closely and our transport team work closely with our rail service providers, to work around potential disruption.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like any further information regarding the situation in the United States, please don’t hesitate to contact Kevin Lake, who leads our North American operations.