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Autoeuropa clears backlog after strike at Setúbal

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Volkswagen exports of T-Roc SUV, made at the Autoeuropa plant in Palmela, at the northern Portugal port of LeixõesFrenzied activity took place in the second half of December at the Autoeuropa Terminal at the port of Setúbal, Portugal, to free a backlog of vehicles trapped there by a stevedores strike that was finally brought to an end after more than a month.

Additional vessels were brought in to shift some 23,000 stranded finished vehicles with an estimated value of around €300m ($343m). At least 12 extra shipments were required to clear the backlog, the first of which departed on December 17.

A further 5,000 vehicles were also forthcoming from VW’s Palmela plant before the commencement of holidays on December 22, coinciding with a shutdown in production there.

The port’s stevedoring pool, Operestiva, guaranteed sufficient labour to deal with the backlog.

Autoeuropa has declined to discuss the financial impact of the strike on its business, but the terminal had to use the nearby Montijo air base to park overspill cars on and also dispatched other consignments via the ports of Leixões, Vigo and Santander during the strike, all of which incurred additional cost.

In a statement, the company noted: “Autoeuropa welcomes the agreement reached and recognises the decisive role the government has played in this process, as well as the other parties involved, such as the operators and the unions. A logistics plan is currently under way to mitigate the situation of the vehicles retained in the port of Setúbal.”

Despite the strike, Autoeuropa calculated it would handle a total of 223,190 finished vehicles in 2018 and more than 20m parts. VW’s Palmela plant had intended to produce 240,000 vehicles last year, but production was scaled back during the strike for want of engines.