Workers who make the global supply chain function are warning that it is extremely close to falling apart because of a combination of lingering COVID pandemic shutdowns and shortages of workers and staff along the way.
“Several industry groups have warned world leaders of a worldwide supply-chain ‘system collapse” due to pandemic restrictions, coming as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested that the current period of higher inflation will last until 2022,” The Epoch Times reported, as prices for oil continue to rise and have surpassed $80 a barrel as of this writing for the first time since earlier in the Trump administration.
The outlet continued:
The International Chamber of Shipping, a coalition of truck drivers, seafarers, and airline workers, has warned in a letter to heads of state attending the United Nations General Assembly that governments need to restore freedom of movement to transportation workers amid persistent COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines.
The group noted further that if improvements are not made and soon, there will be a “global transport system collapse,” adding that “global supply chains are beginning to buckle as two years’ worth of strain on transport workers take their toll,” according to the letter.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing about 65 million transportation workers the world over, signed the letter.
“All transport sectors are also seeing a shortage of workers, and expect more to leave as a result of the poor treatment millions have faced during the pandemic, putting the supply chain under greater threat,” the letter said.
“We also ask that WHO and the ILO raise this at the U.N. General Assembly and call on heads of government to take meaningful and swift action to resolve this crisis now,” they wrote.
“We are witnessing unprecedented disruptions and global delays and shortages on essential goods including electronics, food, fuel and medical supplies,” said the letter.
“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,” the letter continued. ‘Their continued mistreatment is adding pressure on an already crumbling global supply chain.
“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,” it added. “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,” the union bosses noted further, calling on governments to prioritize vaccines for transportation workers and grant them more freedom of movement.
One problem — the cargo ship backlog — stems from another — the shortage of dockworkers and truck drivers.
“As long as cargo doesn’t move off terminals, it does impede the amount that can come off the ship,” Bethann Rooney, deputy port director of Port of New York and New Jersey, told the Journal of Commerce. “Since terminals are at or near capacity, they can’t turn over the ship as quickly because there’s no room at the inn.”
Some retailers like Costco have resorted to retaining their own cargo ships on routes from Asia to the Western Hemisphere and the U.S., according to The Epoch Times. But it’s still not enough and there will no doubt be shortages of products on shelves ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Many shoppers across the United States and the rest of the world have noticed shortages of everyday products in recent weeks, with Costco recently limiting the amount of toilet paper and cleaning products its customers can buy amid the supply crunch,” the Daily Mail reported. “Plastic products are also becoming scarce. Production of a wide range of electronic devices and cars has slowed down because of microchip shortages.”
Consumer experts are advising people to order early.
“Managing through that process over the next couple of years is … going to be very challenging because we have this hypothesis that inflation is going to be transitory. We think that’s right,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said. “But we are concerned about underlying inflation expectations remaining stable, as they have so far.”