German Lock Workers' Strike Sporadically Impacting River Cruises


Photo by Susan J. Young

If high water levels weren't enough of a headache for river lines earlier this summer, a sporadic strike by river lock workers in Germany began last week. The walkouts were initially slated to run through Sunday July 14, but possibly could spill into this week.

Barge traffic appeared to be most severely impacted. But even minor disruptions to certain cruises and uncertainty moving forward caused Scenic Cruises  to put out a statement on Saturday, July 13 on its Web site. View the statement and list of poissble impacted cruises with minor modificatiions at

The lock workers' union is trying to reach a settlement with Germany's Federal Transport Ministry, which plans cost-cutting reforms targeted at the nation's aging waterway canal systems. The reforms aim to reduce the ranks of the 12,500 lock workers by 25 percent. Germany’s waterways have 435 locks, most of them in the western part of the country.

In its statement, Scenic Cruises told guests: “Industrial action has been introduced by the German union which involves the operators who control the locks on the rivers throughout Germany. The impact of the strike may see some locks closed, however at this stage the length of the strike is not clearly defined. It may be that there is an ongoing impact at various locations at any time.”

The cruise line said the actual operation of the locks will require day-to-day verification by the line. That could result in some itinerary shifts, docking schedule changes and perhaps ship swaps. “All of these are subject to individual lock operations,” the Scenic statement said.

Similarly, Tauck ( said in a previous statement to guests last week that union-organized lock workers on several key waterways in Germany had staged a series of eight-hour strikes, causing disruption to water traffic along rivers and canals.

“No schedule of when and where these strikes will occur has been announced, making it extremely difficult for Tauck to determine and communicate if (and how) our river cruises in the region will be impacted,” the line said. Tauck acknowledged “this information is best regarded as uncertain.”

There’s no word today about any labor action continuing into this week. Stay tuned to for additional updates as they’re received.