MSC-HHLA deal already sparks controversy and faces opposition
The port of Hamburg and HHLA seem destined to be at the centre of attention given every opportunity. This time is not about COSCO buying a stake at a port’s terminal but about the upcoming deal where MSC will acquire a 49.9 per cent stake from HHLA. Protests have taken place this week in the city of Hamburg, with labour unions advocating against the acquisition, perceiving it as a threat to the port’s workforce.
Around 2,500 protestors from the labour union ver.di took to the streets of Hamburg to protest against the port’s infrastructure partial privatisation. Apart from ver.di, the protest was attended by various other workers in an expression of solidarity. Their argument was that the stake acquisition by MSC could endanger the “welfare of workers” while also laying hands on critical public infrastructure.
In the hands of the public
According to the German publication WELT, the protesters held signs with the message “MSC-mafia shipping company” and chanted the motto “Our port, not your casino”. The message for the port’s employees is clear: The port of Hamburg should remain in the hands of the public, and MSC should stay out of it.
This was also expressed by Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth, one of the ver.di’s representatives, who explicitly said that German seaports are critical infrastructure and should remain in the public sector and not be part of a sell-out. She also accused the city of Hamburg of not safeguarding the port and called upon it to reconsider the decision and align with a collective national port strategy that would protect the future of German seaports and their workforce.