World’s key workers threaten to hit economy where it will hurt

By Augusta Saraiva and Bryce Baschuk

The pandemic has put unprecedented strain on global supply chains -– and also on the workers who’ve kept those systems running under tough conditions. It looks like many of them have had enough.

A surge in strikes and other labor protests is threatening industries all over the world, and especially the ones that involve moving goods, people and energy around. From railway and port workers in the US to natural-gas fields in Australia and truck drivers in Peru, employees are demanding a better deal as inflation eats into their wages.

Precisely because their work is so crucial to the world economy right now –- with supply chains still fragile and job markets tight –- those workers have leverage at the bargaining table. Any disruptions caused by labor disputes could add to the shortages and soaring prices that threaten to trigger recessions.

That is emboldening employees in transportation and logistics -– which spans everything from warehouses to trucking — to stand up to their bosses, according to Katy Fox-Hodess, a lecturer in employment relations at Sheffield University Management School in the UK. She points to already-tough working conditions in the industry after years of deregulation.

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