Saturday, 29 November 2008

Lack of safety at ports puts lives at risk, says Unite

Government ministers got a broadside from a working tugman over their failure to give sufficient priority to health and safety in UK ports and harbours.
Speaking at the 1st Annual UK Ports and Shipping Conference, Richard Crease from Unite, Britain's largest union which represents over 11,000 members on the docks, working in pilotage and towage and the inland waterways, said the union had serious concerns about safety.
"I have worked for 26 years as a tugman at the Port of Southampton. We have been very concerned that the Government intends to continue, for the foreseeable future, broadly its present policies in regard to safety within the ports," he told the conference. "We believe that the Department of Transport's recent Port Policy document does not give sufficient priority to the subjects of the safety, welfare and security of employment of the workforce employed in the ports industry."

Full report here:

Further three day strike planned at Dover Port

Hundreds of Unite members working at the Dover Harbour Board will begin a further three day strike starting 7.00am on Thursday (27th November). They will be demanding that their jobs not be outsourced.
Unite members voted overwhelmingly in favour (83.8 per cent) of strike action. Unite does not take strike action lightly and is still prepared to negotiate over the best way of protecting its members' jobs.

Bad bosses may damage your heart.

Inconsiderate bosses not only make work stressful, they may also increase the risk of heart disease for their employees, experts believe.
A Swedish team found a strong link between poor leadership and the risk of serious heart disease and heart attacks among more than 3,000 employed men.
And the effect may be cumulative - the risk went up the longer an employee worked for the same company.
The study is published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Experts said that feeling undervalued and unsupported at work can cause stress, which often fosters unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, that can lead to heart disease.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Felixstowe Radio's Port Report

This is our first newsletter covering the Ports of Felixstowe and Harwich and the River Orwell.
Felixstowe Radio is a community radio station providing a platform for anyone interested in this area. Now we broadcast on the Internet at with 24/7 live radio (listen live) and a podcast facility (listen again).Soon we move into a shop at Great Eastern Square, and in 2009 will start FM broadcasting in the Felixstowe area and surrounding villages and parts of Harwich.Community radio is what we all make it. We will support ourselves through advertising, sponsored programmes, and making our skills and production facilities available to everyone. Our crew are amongst the most talented in the country - when you need video or audio you need us. Advertising terms are competitive. Early supporters have live advertising slots for as little as one pound.There will be a regular programmes about activities at the ports, always available as podcasts. This is your chance to tell your story. Send company press releases, snippets of fun and information to To give you a taste of what can happen go to for three programmes: Mick Lungley talks about his life as the skipper of a working Thames sailing barge, Rob Anning, Methodist Minister mentions his work at the port and there's a report about the start of work on the new South Felixstowe dock.Talk to us, talk to Felixstowe, and we can all have some fun, and perhaps gain a little information on the way.Email or call 01394 273028 for more information.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Don't expect any overtime!

CKYH Alliance to cut Asia-North Europe tonnage.;jsessionid=CE279BAE3B64FF01F6C84C5A32E6AAC1

THE CKYH Alliance, consisting of Coscon, K Line, Yang Ming and Hanjin Shipping, has revealed its winter slack-season service rationalization programme will see an incremental 30% tonnage reduction on the Asia-North Europe services beginning end-November.The alliance will combine the AES and AEN loops, each being operated by eight 8,200 teu to 10,000 teu vessels from Coscon, into one service called CNEU from the end of November.Coscon will deploy ten 9,469 teu to 10,000 teu ships on the new CNEU, which means the line will drop six post-panamax vessels from the route.The CNEU will cover most of the port calls of the existing AES and AEN, except Xiamen and Lianyungang.The new loop will rotate: Dalian, Xingang, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong, Yantian, Nansha, Singapore, Rotterdam, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Antwerp, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dalian. Moreover, the alliance said it will suspend a number of sailings in both the AES2 and AES3 services from mid December.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Job losses confirmed at city port

The owners of Southampton docks are set to shed 45 staff due to the downturn in the economy.
Associated British Ports (ABP) confirmed that 10% of its workforce would go at the Hampshire port.
In a statement the company said: "It is with regret that we can confirm it is necessary for a number of redundancies to be made at the Port of Southampton.
"The process will be conducted in full consultation with the relevant trade unions and staff representatives."
No timescale has been placed on the period of redundancy consultation.
Matthew Tipper, of Unite, said redundancy negotiations are due to start with ABP next Monday.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

EWS launches new Felixstowe-BIFT intermodal train

EWS has introduced a new intermodal rail freight service from the Port of Felixstowe (via Ipswich) to Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal (BIFT).
The train service, which is a direct response to customer demand, operates daily from Tuesday to Saturday.
The train is able to convey containers ranging in size from 20ft, 40ft through to 40' high cubes.
According to Clive Branford, marketing manager for BIFT owner-operator Roadways Containers Logistics, the new service enables customers to benefit from reduced costs as well as offering environmental advantages by transferring containers from road to rail.Corinne Lamoureux, field sales manager for EWS's intermodal rail freight business, said: "Despite the economic downturn, we are working hard at EWS to continue growing the volume of freight transported on the rail network in Britain."

Monday, 17 November 2008

Maersk Line and Hutchison Ports sign agreement for priority terminal in Felixstowe

16 June 2008
London. Maersk Line today announces the signing of a 10-year agreement for terminal usage for Maersk Line at Trinity Terminal, the Port of Felixstowe, UK. This agreement between Maersk Line and Hutchison Ports recognises the importance of joint co-operation in the shipping industry and reflects both companies’ commitment to long-term planning in the UK. Doug Bannister – Managing Director Maersk Line UK and Ireland – comments: “Maersk Line has an unrivalled global network and we strive for unmatched reliability. This new agreement with the Port of Felixstowe means we have capacity guaranteed, giving us greater control over the operation of our vessels. Greater operational control for us means greater reliability for our customers.” The agreement – signed in May - will provide Maersk Line with reliable capacity to service its regular vessel calls into Felixstowe for the next 10 years, and will commence in August this year when the Port of Felixstowe take delivery of their latest cranes.

I've posted this even though part of the work force have been informed of this... Nobody bothered to come and talk to C shift tugs!

Friday, 14 November 2008


A ballot vote (concerninig the above) will be held at the Trinity union office next to Centenary house on Trinity terminal on the following days/times.

Mon 17th Nov.

Weds 19th Nov.

Fri 21st Nov.

Thurs 27th Nov.

Mon 1st Dec.

Please make every effort to vote.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Lives at risk as shippers flout safe container stowage;jsessionid=EE0E728B9A2A2022F1CB7342DCAB6AF6

SPOT checks on containers to be shipped from the UK are uncovering a huge number of deficiencies and documentary errors that could threaten the lives of those handling the cargo. Maritime and Coastguard Agency officials who are required to conduct random inspections are reporting a very high failure rate. On average, half of all containerised cargoes examined are found to be substandard in one way or another. That is an improvement on the 100% failure rate that the MCA was regularly reporting a few years ago, but even now there are occasions when every single container pulled over for a check is non-compliant and unable to proceed with its voyage until the contents have been stowed correctly, accurately weighed, and properly declared.

“They are gambling with someone else’s life,” accused Clive Savigar, director of Coleshill Freight Services, as he listed example after example of cargo that had not been properly packed and secured, or correctly documented. Every error could have resulted in injury, or even death, to a truck driver, dockworker, seafarer or receiver who came in close proximity to the container and its contents. Maersk Line suffers an average of 10 to 15 container units a week that are leaking, of which about five involve hazardous cargoes, revealed John Leach, the company’s general manager for global dangerous cargo and special cargo management.

Dover Port workers march & demonstrate to prevent their jobs being outsourced

Monday, 10th November 2008
LOCATION: Penchester Gardens, Dover CT16.
ROUTE: from Penchester Gardens to Harbour House
DATE: Saturday 15th November
TIME: 9.00am
Hundreds of Unite members working at the Dover Harbour Board will take part in a rally and demonstrate on Saturday 15th November and will also go out on a 48 hour strike next week to demand that their jobs not be outsourced.
Unite members voted overwhelmingly in favour (83.8%) to take strike action and will go out on a 48 hour walk out next week starting at 7am on Tuesday, 18th November. Unite does not take strike action lightly and is still prepared to negotiate over the best way of protecting its members’ jobs.
Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, is angry that the port’s Chief Executive has stated they are not prepared to negotiate on their plans to outsource work, but only inform the union of their proposals.
Jane Jeffery, Unite Regional Industrial Organiser, said:
“Our members have voted overwhelmingly in a ballot for industrial action to protect their employment with the Port of Dover. Our members are determined to protect their terms and conditions of employment, and most importantly pensions, which will undoubtedly be threatened by these outsourcing plans.
“Our members are angry that the company has done nothing to help resolve the situation and feel they have no choice but to take strike action to defend their livelihoods.”
Unite National Secretary for Docks and Waterways, Brendan Gold, who will be addressing the demonstration on Saturday said:
“Dover Port management have forgotten the huge contribution our members make to run the port efficiently. To outsource port security at a time when security is of vital importance is negligent in the extreme.
“Dover is a trust port which has a responsibility to its workforce and the local community. Clearly the port management have ignored this important fact in their relentless drive for profit.”
Join the rally and voice your support on Saturday 15th November from 9.00am and fight the ports plans to outsource these jobs.


We finally had our chance to speak with the people from yesterday. The phrase divide and conquer was banded about before we had the meeting but afterwards we (the tug drivers) agreed that it was better for the Awake team to see us individually so they only had one job to think about and get their heads round.

There were three tug drivers present, Steve Lacey, Adrian Murkin and myself. We felt that we got our point across and didn't miss anything out in the meeting.
Points covered:

We were asked what our thoughts were on the present working times. We told them that they are far too long. Awake said that their software program shows very little difference between the 2 hours driving and 30 min breaks and the 3 hours 20 mins driving and 40 mins break. We pointed out that it is totally different working on the quay to driving down a motorway(Most of Awake's case studies are on road haulage companies). We mentioned the state of the roadways and the battering that our bodies get, the constant turning in the seat to see boxes down, the ammount of times you are straining to look up and check for boxes coming off/on to the ships. We pointed out that we have different cabs to lorry drivers and even when we do get the chance to stretch it isn't easy.

We thought that we would be more productive going back to the old system and told them about the monotony of our jobs. Most of us have a radio on in the cabs but that does little to keep us alert, it's only coming in for breaks and having a stretch and a chat that gets us awake and ready for another stint. We suggested going to 2 hours 30 mins driving with a 30 min break.

We talked about the catering facilities and the fact that if you are on break 1 or 6 it is difficult to get a decent meal. These breaks fall around the times that the canteen change over menus. I brought up the vending machines that we have at the North quay office and quoted from the Awake website that If you are getting sleepy to take a high caffeine drink and have a nap for no more than 15 minutes. We don't have anywhere on the quay to even get a cup of coffee.

I also quoted from their website "Most sleep related crashes occur between 2am- 6 am, and 4pm-6pm. You are 13 times more likely to have an accident due to tiredness at this time. The health and safety man from POF told us that most accidents on the port occur between 7am-11am.

Awake informed us that working an 8 hour shift is better than working 12. We all agreed that the majrity of the workforce would not want to go back to the 8 hour shifts. We are happy with our pattern as it is but are very unhappy and concerned about safety driving for 3 hours 20 minutes. We told them that we have all seen people falling asleep while driving, luckily not causing any accidents. I again quoted from their website saying that if you have anything less than 2 minutes sleep you do not even know you've had it. When your head starts nodding it's usually too late!

We told them that by the end of our four shifts we are mentally and physically tired. All the tug drivers agreed that our first day off is wasted through fatigue.

We look forward to reading their report.

Maersk Asia - Europe service changes