(Adds union, APM Terminals comments, background)
COPENHAGEN, June 20 (Reuters) - Port operator APM Terminals, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, said it will cut 160 staff at its Gothenburg terminal in Sweden, the largest in Scandinavia, as labour disruptions had caused container volumes to drop by 25 percent over the past year.
“We have lost about 70,000 containers in revenue over the past year,” Henrik Kristensen, head of APM Terminals in Gothenburg, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Around half of all Swedish container traffic moves through the terminal in which APM Terminals invested 800 million Danish crowns ($120 million) in 2012-16, and is currently investing a further 250 million crowns.
“This has been a very difficult but necessary decision caused by the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union’s consecutive blockades and nine strikes for over a year resulting in several shipping lines no longer calling (at) Gothenburg,” Kristensen said in a separate statement, referring to the planned job cuts.
The strike is about the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union’s (SDU) right to represent its members in negotiations with the company, union spokesman Anders Moller said. Around 85 percent of employees at the port are members of the union.
The company, which employs 450 people in Gothenburg, wants to secure a no-strike agreement with workers, Moller said.
“If we are going to give away our right to strike, we have to have a reasonable ability to represent our members, to take part in negotiations, to pick safety foremen,” he said.
Since May 19, the company has locked out SDU members from working the night shift and refuses to hold direct talks with the union, he said, adding that the big drop in production had been since the lockout.
Negotiations on the layoffs will be completed in a few months, according to APM Terminals. ($1 = 6.6721 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Editing by Susan Fenton)