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Strike in Germany - Locks are blocked

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Home >> Strike in Germany - Locks are blocked

Update July 15th: The strike is postponed back on in Bavaria at this moment, please read the Prediction & Chart at the end of the article.

Update July 26th: Rumors are no strikes next week but negotiations between Ver.di and the Ministry of Transportation.

Update July 29th: Strikes are off until August 4th.

Update August 5h: Ver.di puts the strike back on in North Rhine Westphalia until August 9th. No river cruises affected.

Update August 12th: Uniworld Forum says the strike is off at least until August 15th.

Update August 16th: The strike will continue, now Ver.di mainly targets locks in North-Eastern Germany and the Kiel Canal. For next week they focus on Bremen and Lower Saxony. So far river cruises are not affected.

Update September 6th: Shortly before the german national elections, Ver.di will intensify the strike again: In an interview they state that all locks on all rivers are going to be closed from Monday 9th to Sunday 15th.

Update September 10th: The major strike seems to be called off, however there are some local strikes along the Danube and Main river. They could not be called off. So Expect some delays until Wednesday. This afternoon I am going to update the chart below. At the moment rumors are that the locks are open from midnight on.

Background of the lock workers strike

So far this year just gets worse and worse. After the flood and the delays due to Altenwörth lock repairs, there are new problems coming. The german Ministry of Transportation has plans to lay off 3000 of its 12000 employees in the Waterways Navigation Department (WSV). That's why Ver.di Union called them to go on strike from Monday (2013-07-08) on. This is not a warning strike (limited for a few hours or days), but an unlimited one. Update: According to WDR the strike is going to last until this Weekend). Other federal states than North Rhine Westphalia will join for one day. Bavaria on Thuesday, northern ones on Thursday.

They announced to target the locks along the industrial canals in the Ruhr area. However, as the restructuring plans do affect the whole administration, more federal departements may join and support them in North Rhine Westphalia. From Tuesday on, WSV Regensburg (in charge of locks along the Danube) with its 200 employees joins in. At this moment, about 30% of the employees in the WSV are still civil servants and therefore not allowed to go on strike. The other 70% do have the right to strike - and they target canals and locks. Especially locks are easy to block: For every lock you need two workers to coordinate and operate the ships during one shift. They are skilled workers, not easy to replace. They opted to go on strike already in May 2013, but delayed it due to the flooding. Now everyone who is not occupied in undoing flood damage is called to support.

What does it mean for river cruise ships? We don't know yet. Best case: Cruisers will not notice it, as no river cruise companies cruise along these canals. Maybe there will be more cargo ships docked along the Rhine. Worst case: These lock employees have the potential to stall traffic on all waterways in Germany, blocking locks on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Moselle. The only cruises that will not be affected are along the Elbe river, as there are no locks on the german side of the river (as far down as Hamburg). As usual, I will keep you informed when more information are published. After the music a list of all locks on strike:

This list is a bit rudimentary. The main problem is, you have regular employees and civil servants working shifts on the same locks. The first are allowed to strike against their lock, the later are not. So it might be, that a lock is blocked for one shift, open on another. I'll try my best to keep you informed. For the sake of completeness, here ist the list of locks along the rivers affected by the strike (and more).

Lock Status: Updated 2013-09-13 19:28 CEST
River WSV Department Locks affected from - to Comment Status
Elbe All WSAs None There are no locks here Open
Danube WSA Regensburg Between Regensburg and Passau - Open
Main WSA Schweinfurt Between Bamberg and Schweinfurt - Open
Main WSA Würzburg Between Schweinfurt and Würzburg - Open
Main WSA Aschaffenburg Between Würzburg and Aschaffenburg - Open
Main WSA ... Between Aschaffenburg and Mainz - Open
Main Danube Canal WSA Nuremberg Bamberg to Regensburg Movement of ships shown at Marinetraffic. Open
Moselle WSA Trier Remich to Cochem Movement of ships shown at Marinetraffic. Open
Moselle WSA Koblenz Cochem to Koblenz Movement of ships shown at Marinetraffic. Open
Rhine All WSAs Amsterdam to Mainz There are no locks here. Open
Rhine WSA Mannheim Iffezheim Movement of ships shown at Marinetraffic. Open
Rhine France Every other lock along the Rhine Canal The only lock run by german authorities is Iffezheim, hence the rest of the river is open for navigation. Open
Saar WSA Trier Whole river Movement of ships shown at Marinetraffic. Open

Viking River Cruises now has some information on the strike and how it affects their river cruises. Avalon Waterways published information about the strike and how they handle it as well.

Prediction & Rumors

After Bavaria joined the strike on Tuesday and Rhineland Palatinate on Thursday, everything seems to be flowing again. Locks along the industrial canals are still blocked until Sunday midnight. This does not affect cruises, so I put all rivers and canals back to "green". However, keep an eye on the list, it might change again, the politicial issue (laying off 30% of the administration) is not solved and Ver.di says they are just suspending the strike in some areas.

According to a colleague of mine who talked to lock operators at Otterndorf (Bamberg; Main) the workers are going to go on strike again from Tuesday to Thursday every week. So expect Friday to have minor delays (due to the 3 days blockage), while Saturday to Monday everything will go as scheduled. At this moment these are unconfirmed rumors (from a trustworthy source), we will find out on Tuesday.

If you are affected and have any information, please leave a comment below, use the contact form or email me at