BUCKLE UP: Supply Chains Are Buckling Under The Strain Of Lockdowns

Written by Wes Walker on September 30, 2021

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As soon as those ‘fifteen days’ to slow the spread began morphing into months, this problem was no longer a question ‘if’ but one of ‘when’ and ‘how big’?

Society can shrug off a delivery disruption of the sort of high-end hockey sticks that the pros use. No big deal. Life goes on.

But what happens when the supply chain for other, more important products gets backlogged? What happens when the products on backorder is a part critical to the manufacture of new vehicles, for instance?

Have you looked at the price of a new car lately? How about a used one?

What happens when there’s a shortage of workers to unload the ships, or drive the trucks? We all got a taste of what that could mean when a single container ship got itself stuck in the Suez canal. But that was just a cork in a bottle, with the pressure coming back to normal once it was dislodged.

The problems we have now are more like a slow-moving drain that’s on the brink of clogging completely. It might seem to only be a minor issue, except the water is still flowing into the sink (or toilet). If we don’t find a solution soon, we could have a real mess on our hands.

International shipping workers sent an open letter to world leaders to deal with the issue.

Here are some key points from the letter:

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the maritime, road and aviation industries have called loudly and clearly on governments to ensure the free movement of transport workers and to end travel bans and other restrictions that have had an enormously detrimental impact on their wellbeing and safety. Transport workers keep the world running and are vital for the free movement of products, including vaccines and PPE, but have been continually failed by governments and taken for granted by their officials.

Our calls have been consistent and clear: freedom of movement for transport workers, for governments to use protocols that have been endorsed by international bodies for each sector and to prioritise transport workers for vaccinations as called for in the World Health Organization’s SAGE Roadmap for Prioritizing Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Context of Limited Supply.

… This is why IRU, the world road transport organisation, IATA, the International Air Transport Association, ICS, the International Chamber of Shipping, and ITF, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, have come together to make an urgent plea to the world’s heads of government and the United Nations Agencies to remove restrictions hampering the free movement of transport workers, and guarantee and facilitate their free and safe movement.

Our collective industries account for more than $20 trillion of world trade annually, and represent 65 million global transport workers, and over 3.5 million road freight and airline companies, as well as more than 80% of the world merchant shipping fleet. Seafarers, air crew and drivers must be able to continue to do their jobs, and cross borders, to keep supply chains moving. We ask heads of government to urgently take the leadership that is required to bring an end to the fragmented travel rules and restrictions that have severely impacted the global supply chain and put at risk the health and wellbeing of our international transport workforce. We also need the same urgent leadership to increase global vaccine supply by all means at our disposal, in order to expedite the recovery of our industries.

…The impact of nearly two years’ worth of strain, placed particularly upon maritime and road transport workers, but also impacting air crews, is now being seen. Their continued mistreatment is adding pressure on an already crumbling global supply chain. We are witnessing unprecedented disruptions and global delays and shortages on essential goods including electronics, food, fuel and medical supplies. Consumer demand is rising and the delays look set to worsen ahead of Christmas and continue into 2022.

We have all continued to keep global trade flowing throughout the pandemic, but it has taken a human toll. At the peak of the crew change crisis 400,000 seafarers were unable to leave their ships, with some seafarers working for as long as 18 months over their initial contracts. Flights have been restricted and aviation workers have faced the inconsistency of border, travel, restrictions, and vaccine restrictions/requirements. Additional and systemic stopping at road borders has meant truck drivers have been forced to wait, sometimes weeks, before being able to complete their journeys and return home.

Even such mundane details as the shipping containers in which they are shipped being harder to come by, or a looming Chinese energy crisis threatening factory production ratchet this problem up higher.

All this comes before we’re feeling the (further) inflationary effects of $80 a barrel oil prices on every product we buy that is delivered to a store or to our door.

Not to mention the inflationary effects of Dems hellbent on blowing out the budget.

For some reason, this isn’t an issue deemed worthy of any attention of the Biden people… so far.

Biden was smiling pretty big when he signed away America’s energy independence.

Will he still be wearing his goofy grin when it comes time to pay the piper?

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