Friday, 26 June 2009

10 reasons why unions are great / fab / key actors in the industrial geography of the UK

I've just read this on another union blog and hope they don't mind me bringing it to your attention.

1. On average, union members receive higher pay, better sickness and pension benefits, more holiday and more flexible working hours than non-members. Union members earn more than 12.5% more per hour than non-union members (with average hourly earnings £13.07 for members and £11.62 for non-members).

2. Unions can also play a key role in reducing pay inequality. Research demonstrates that there continues to be a clear union pay premium for workers that tend to face pay discrimination: - women (9 per cent improvement); black & Asian employees (8 per cent) and manual workers (13 per cent) – trade unions clearly play a highly significant role in combating pay inequality.

3. Each year unions help over 100,000 people develop new skills. These programmes cover everything from continuing professional development to supporting workers who want to develop ‘skills for life’. The TUC and unions have trained over 22,000 Workplace Union Learn Reps. In addition to workplace based learning over 400 learning centres have been established and networked. Courses range from short, taster courses to longer programmes, skills for life, IT and NVQ’s and are open to trade union members and their families.

4. Trade unions are the most effective tool for ensuring good health and safety at work - put simply unionised workplaces are safer workplaces. There are more than 150,000 union safety representatives in the UK, trained to internationally recognised standards. These reps lower the accident rate by ensuring safe working practises, and reduce ill-health caused by the stress of working long hours, of being bullied, and of working in environments with poor lighting and ventilation.

5. Unions were the first to raise major concerns over levels of violence in the workplace, the effects of RSI, and passive smoking. When unions first raised the issue of stress at work, employers and the media argued it was nonsense. It is now recognised that workplace stress affects up to half a million people.

6. As a result of unfair treatment by employers, in 2004 unions won an estimated £16.2 million in compensation for their members at Employment Appeal Tribunals. Unfair dismissal awards won by trade unions are over three times higher than the average in a non-union backed unfair dismissal case. In 2007 unions won a record £330m in compensation for members through legal action. They also won £1m in equal pay claims - an average of £15,000 per member affected.

7. UK unions, through the TUC, have been at the forefront of ensuring better treatment for Britain’s 1.3 million agency workers. An agreement last year between the TUC, the employers’ organisation the CBI and the UK government secured UK agreement to the European Agency Workers Directive the implementation of which is being consulted on in 2009. Trade unions were instrumental to the introduction of the European Agency Workers Directive which builds on existing protection of agency workers rights campaigned for by UK trade unions.

8. Trade unions have a critical role to play in helping to change employer attitudes and ‘greening’ workplaces, reducing costs for employers, and making appositive contribution toward challenging climate change. The TUC’s ‘Green Workplaces’ project supported trade union initiatives to make six demonstration workplaces ‘greener’.

9. Unions not only make a difference to workers, they can also bring benefits to employers and the wider community. The Dept for Trade and Industry (now BIS) published a report in 2007 which assessed the benefits of trade union involvement and representation in the workplace – and found that by giving employees a voice, rather than them simply leaving a firm when they were unhappy, union reps significantly reduce the number of ‘exits’, improving labour retention and reducing absenteeism. The DTI estimated that this could be a saving to employers of between £72 and £143 million.

10. According to a recent TUC survey “Unions in the Community: A survey of union reps” union reps are heavily involved in campaigning and activities outside of work. Trade union reps are eight times more likely than the general population to engage in voluntary work and give more of their time to community organisations.

Stats taken from a new TUC publication ‘The Union Effect - the positive effect of trade unions on the economy and British society’

Tilbury's volumes on the up

Scottish ports group Forth Ports has said volumes at its part-owned Tilbury Container Services (TCS) picked up during the second quarter of 2009.
In a trading update to investors ahead of its interim report, on 27 August, the group said TCS had shown improvements in the second quarter of the first half, although it did admit that the operation had been its business most affected by the recession.
However, there was much better news in ro-ro traffic: “At Tilbury, the financial performance is expected to show another good improvement over the first half of last year. The ro-ro business has seen an excellent increase in volumes and performed well."
Overall, Forth Ports said group results for the first half were expected to be in line with last year.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Ports set for radical shake-up

PORTS are set for a radical shake-up of their business model as pressure grows on loss-making shipping lines to sell off non-core container terminal assets in order to survive the global downturn.
Moreover, a bankruptcy among the major container lines would put in train a series of terminal reshuffles as newly formed shipping alliances switched their global ports of call.
That is one scenario outlined by Drewry Shipping Consultants, which predicts that global container terminal operators will have to wait until 2012 for annual throughputs to exceed the 525m teu peak achieved in 2008.
Drewry director of ports Neil Davidson said: “It is clear that all the major shipping lines are losing a lot of money and they will come under increasing pressure to balance that out.
“They may be forced to sell their terminal assets and there is no doubt that the international stevedores and some financial investors would be very interested.”
Those more likely to sell assets would be Asian and European shipping lines for whom box terminals are a strategic extension of their core container transport arm rather than a stand-alone business.
But potential investors would have to be wary, Mr Davidson said.
“Some of these container terminal assets are more a cost centre than a profit sector, and an investor would have to find out how the pricing works.
“It could lead to some interesting negotiations on the price and conditions. However, a large number of these container terminal assets are in key locations around the world.”
Drewry said that quoted container terminal operators, whose share prices are now at historic lows, may well attract interest from financial investors seeking quick returns.
“The fundamentals of the container terminal business remain good and they are not discounting on tariffs. Their share price has been dragged down by general developments in the stock market. Yet they are resilient business and are still making money in the worst recession for decades.
“Their shares are undervalued by the stock market and they represent a opportunity for investors.”
Drewry, which forecasts global container volumes will fall 10% this year and that shipping lines face a $25bn revenue shortfall, warned that port operators also face radical challenges.
“There is the potential for a big shake up in the ports business if one of the major container lines goes bankrupt. It could stir up a change in their customer base, with business moving from one terminal to another as part of a domino effect. There will be winners and losers in the ports business because of this.”
Drewry expects European container port demand — a function of consumer spending — to fall 12% this year. It will be virtually static in 2010 and then return to 5% growth by 2011, with teu throughput reaching a par with 2008 volumes in 2013.
In the Far East, which has a global market to serve, the return to 2008 volumes will be achieved two years earlier, in 2011.
Drewry expects Far East container port demand to fall 9% this year, rise to 2% growth in 2010 and thereafter averaging just over 8% growth for the next three years.
If those forecasts are correct, then Drewry expects global terminal operators to push ahead with deferred expansion plans by the end of 2010.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Union anger over Yarmouth dock losses

Union officials expressed their anger last night that the 11 remaining dock workers at the company behind Yarmouth's new outer harbour are to be made redundant.
Unite says it has been told that EastPort UK will dismiss the stevedores, some of who have worked in the ports for more than 20 years, in the next few weeks and bring in casual workers instead.
It follows five dockers being made redundant a few weeks ago.
Yesterday's news comes in the wake of the arrival of two giant cranes and the 150m cargo vessel Trimnes to help put the finishing touches to the £50m outer harbour and container terminal. The major project is a joint venture between the Port of Singapore Authority and EastPort UK, which took over running Yarmouth's port in 2007.
Victor Brazkiewicz, regional industrial organiser for Unite, said: “The new port management have decimated and demoralised the port workforce since they took control.
“To add insult to injury, it is now looking to replace our members with casual labour. Morale, trust and confidence in the port management is at an all-time low, causing a number of individuals to resign in addition to the redundancies.
In addition, the Port of Singapore Authority has been seeking labour through a recruitment agency, by-passing the current workforce.”
Mike Gibbons, the dockers' executive member for Unite, added: “The union will use all means possible, including our international contacts, to prevent these redundancies and the casualisation of the workforce.”
Last week the EDP reported that 30 port staff would move from their present riverside headquarters to offices in the former Omni-Pac egg carton factory on South Denes in the late summer to coincide with the first arrival of the first container vessels at the harbour.

Crisis at the Port of Yarmouth

Unite, the UK’s biggest union, is angered by the news today (Wednesday) that the 11 remaining dock workers at the Port of Yarmouth are to be made redundant.
The dock has proposed to dismiss these permanent dockers in the coming weeks stating it will bring in casual workers. These redundancies follow a further five dockers who were made redundant just a few weeks ago.
Unite understands that the port owners, International Port Holdings (IPH), has been more than willing to take millions of pounds of state subsidy for the port development, but has not kept its promise to promote the regeneration of Great Yarmouth. The port has now lost its core skills workforce.
Victor Brazkiewicz, Regional Industrial Organiser for Unite, said: “The new port management have decimated and demoralised the port workforce since they took control. To add insult to injury, it is now looking to replace our members with casual labour.
“Morale, trust and confidence in the port management is at an all time low, created by the style of management that is disjointed and heavy-handed, causing a number of individuals to resign in addition to the redundancies.
“Some of these dockers have been employed at the port for over 20 years and were looking forward to being involved in the new outer harbour. They now feel that they have been betrayed. In addition, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) who are partners with IPH in the port development have been seeking labour through a recruitment agency, bypassing the current workforce.”
Mike Gibbons, the dockers’ executive member for Unite added: “We will not let this matter rest and will continue to campaign to stop Yarmouth becoming a ‘port of convenience’. The union will use all means possible, including our international contacts, to prevent these redundancies and the casualisation of the workforce.”

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


The next Branch Meeting will be held on Tuesday 4th August at Whitton Sports Centre, Church Lane, Whitton, Ipswich at 8p.m.
As many of our Members live in and around Ipswich it was decided to hold the next Branch meeting at Whitton. This will give the many of you a chance to attend the meeting, see what goes on and get involved. Of course Members from outside Ipswich will be very welcome too. I urge you to do your best to attend. The Union is only as strong as its Membership as I'm sure you are all aware.
You could win £200 in Travel Vouchers!
All Members attending any Branch Meeting this year will be entered into the prize draw. (To be drawn at the October Meeting. No Union Officials will be entered into the draw).

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

'They're treating us like second-rate citizens'

ANGRY workers marched through the streets of Grimsby, protesting at proposed changes to working conditions at Associated British Ports.
More than 100 employees took to the streets frustrated about possible redundancies and changes to workers' terms and conditions.
They claim that bosses are proposing 18 redundancies, as well as changes to shift patterns, holidays and lieu day entitlements.
Setting off from Orwell Street, the workers marched along Freeman Street and into the town centre, before holding a rally in the former MFI car park.
Austin Mitchell, MP for Grimsby, had been due to speak at the rally but pulled out because he was unwell.
However, workers were pleased with how the day went.
Gary Griffin, 55, of Cleethorpes, said: "The turnout has been brilliant. It is really good to see fellow employees standing together.
"I think what ABP are trying to do is disgusting.
"We made this company a first-rate company and they are treating us like second-rate citizens.
"We should share in success."
Kevin Benson, 35, of Cleethorpes, claimed: "They want us to work 2,000 extra hours each year for the same wage – that would be worth another £3,000 to me.
"The mood when we are at work is horrible.
"It is horrendous going in. Everybody is down."
Dave Monaghan, regional officer for the Unite union, said: "We think the proposed changes would have a huge impact on members and have an adverse affect on their family life."
An ABP spokesperson said: "Associated British Ports remains engaged in collective consultations with employee representatives on proposed redundancies and changes to working patterns necessitated by the significant downturn in trade through its ports.
"Although the company cannot comment on any specific details, the ongoing discussions have already resulted in substantially reducing the number of potential redundancies being considered
Comments (21)

abp has a employer has been going down hill for a few years now the problem to many mangers who are just out of unni who havnt got a clue and the rest are stuck in there ivory towers good look to the real workers.
clee man, cleethorpes
Chris, lincolnshire...are you on ABP's management team? O.K., there was obviously a misquote/ misprint, it doesn't take a genius to work that one out! But I get the feeling you want the days back where groups of able bodied men gathered on street corners waiting in hope for a 'gaffers' man to bestow work for that day upon them (very poorly paid work, I might add!), 'cos if you do, then you may as well go the whole hog, and get all of your children/ grandchildren who are old enough to walk, and give them a brush and force them to clean chimneys!! And as for a stranglehold, it's the port workers who are being slowly and deliberately choked hence the demo. almost everyone wants the company they work for to be successful and profitable, but to do this at the expense of their workforce (or should I say the manual grades) is wrong which ever way you wrap it! And I know that there are a lot of people unemployed at the moment, and I can sympathise with their plight, and I might well be joining them very soon, but to want to go back to the dark days because of that is to seal the working mans fate (and that of his kids) for a very long time to come!! BEWARE.
downtrodden, grimsby
abp want 192 unpaid hours from each man of 20 engineers that is what kevin meant that comes to 2800 hours we are not voluntary workers
john, grimsby
Working christmas and new year, checkworking bank holidays, checkworking 50% night shifts (premium time), checkworking 12hr shifts, checkhaving most weekends messed up (premium time), checkcrap pension (non final salary), checkimpossible to hit bonus targets, checkNo more share scheme, checkPay freeze, checkbeing forced to work extra 192hrs for no extra pay?? no way.
Rupert, Costa del Cleethorpes
The 'opt out' is on the basis of a written and signed agreement by the employee!However, this is thrusted on you and really you do not have a choice but to agree to it and in salaried positons for no extra pay.Company's are using the turndown as an excuse to illegally put pressure on staff to take a % pay cut and work longer hours unpaid. In addition to this other perks and benefits have been withdrawn resulting in a much bigger % reduction.Give an employer an inch and they will take a mile....
CHRIS, Campo Grande
Chris, Lincolnshire yes you are correct, as I said previously the 48hr is an average taken over a reference period. This average is calculated including holidays, legal rest days, etc.Employees are already hitting well over 40hrs average including holidays etc, the managers are trying to bring the workers in 16 extra days to bring them closer to the 48 hr LIMIT.This is an inclusive salary with no overtime, and no 48hr opt out.We are talking skilled time-served tradesmen here.Re: the 2000 hours in the report; 16days extra x12hour shift = 192 hrs per employee.Obviously that higher number was referring to a group.Frank Vorskinz, Grimsby has hit the nail on the head..The people doing these changes are middle managers walking round the port office unaffected with the rest of the ¿¿assistant to deputy manager¿¿ people. They are the people who have every weekend off to spend with their kids. Something the shift workers lower down the food chain look forward to every couple of months.The people being forced into accepting these changes are the people that do the work, the operators discharging ships, the engineers that work round the clock to keep machinery working. Take these away and the job stops. Take a middle manager away and it doesn¿t.Everyone at the company is depressed. I predict a high turn around of staff if these extra days are forced.
Anon, Immingham Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 14:08

The 'opt out' of the 48 hour week is something that each individual worker agrees to - not the company or the country. Most companies will make you sign something to say you agree to opt out.As for the economic down turn, it looks like the worst was actually late last year and things have been picking up ever since. Much of the gloom and doom was generated by the media, and only companies relying heavily on financing from banks will be affected long term. Companies are either preparing for the worst case scenario, or a using the downturn as a chance to 'streamline' operations. Personally I think many companies are being very short sighted by hitting the real workers whilst management are left sitting pretty. Office workers and management types are ten a penny, but skilled experienced workers are hard to come by - and as soon as things start picking up will be in high demand. ABP are a ruthless company, severely lacking in class, and I think this may return to bite them on their bottoms.
Frank Vorskinz, Grimsby Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 12:46

Anon, Immingham. I read your comments with interest but have to make a couple of comments of my own, perhaps just correcting you a little. You mention the working time directive; it is not a directive, they are Regulations. Secondly, you mention a 48 hour maximum working week; this is not altogether true. The regulations stipulate that you can work more than 48 hours in a week but your working hours MUST NOT exceed an average of 48 hours per week, calculated over a 17 week period. On the subject of these regulations, we currently have an ¿opt out¿ in this country and I¿ll stand corrected if I am wrong, but I think Britain is the only country in the EU that has such an opt out! It would be interesting to see how many of ABP¿s staff would willingly work overtime which makes them exceed their 48 hour average. I have to say on this story; just take a look at today¿s economic climate; we can¿t be bleating about too much considering the amount of unemployment we have, which as we all can see is rising rapidly. I also looked at Kevin Benson¿s comments in the report; basic mathematics demonstrate that his claims that, ¿They want us to work 2000 extra hours each year for the same wage,¿ equate to 38 extra hours per week! This can not be right! Kevin¿s comments also suggest that those 2000 hours would be worth £3000 to him; how? That works out at JUST £1.50 per hour! All very confusing to me but this just smacks a little of Dockers not having the stranglehold like they used to do years ago and the stranglehold is slipping badly. Ask Grimsby¿s unemployed if they would take the jobs on the proposed new terms and conditions and I bet the answer would be yes!
Chris, Lincolnshire Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 12:10

This is all purely to save managers jobs and earn brownie points and medals for middle managers who will step on anyone to achieve their goals. I'm sure that there is a concerted effort around the ports industry to bring in non permanent staff and reduce terms and conditions to those levels we haven't seen for decades. Come on MP's, come on MEP's, get off your backsides and do something!!!
downtrodden, grimsby Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 12:06

What we must remember is that this is a nationwide struggle.There was a national port conference held in London last Thursday. There where 54 delegates present from ports and firms all over the country. The message was the same from all.Redundancies are being made and the same people are returning to their own redundant jobs as agency labour. Our terms and conditions are being attacked and eroded.
Chris, depressed, dockworker. Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 11:38

I predict there will be a full page spread in the telegraph in a few weeks of ABP donating to a local charity to try and make it look like they care about the community.They are using the current climate purely as an excuse to alter peoples working hours.IF this was all about the companies financial situation, then why arent these hits across the board?? this is the work of the local managers trying to protect their own jobs by screwing over the lower grades of staff. Hopefully when this ''downturn'' is over and things go back to normal people will leave, then they will be left having to employ inexperienced, untrained staff leading to ships discharging slowly leading to huge loss of profit.The working time directive has a limit of 48hrs average working time a week, this is a LEGAL maximum to protect employees. ABPs management are using this as a TARGET to hit. Dont forget the people they are making work long hours are in control of heavy, moving and rotating machinery.. the kind that doesn't stop when a person makes a mistake due to not getting enough rest from work.
Anon, Immingham Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 11:01

The union is only as strong as its members, stick together a lot of companies are hidong behind the credit crunch banner but as you say they still get their bonuses and gold plated pensions while the rest of will be lucky to be able to eat whne we retire.We need a national strike
webbit, Grimsby Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 10:55

ABP claim this is all down to a lack of trade through the economic downturn.. so why do they need their workers in MORE HOURS for the same pay??surely they should be requiring LESS LABOUR as there is supposedly less work? the reason is the ports are still very busy, they are still making huge profits.The employees have already given enough, they relctantly agreed to a pay freeze early this year to protect jobs, now the goal posts have changed and jobs are being affected. lives are being affected.
Anon, Immingham Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 10:54

Its about time ABP,s owners and customers demanded that their middle management are put back on their leashes.Perhaps its time for them to lead by example and change their expensive company cars and bonus schemes instead of stealing from our local communities and workers and hiding behind the current economic climate.Its time for all the hard working, highly skilled workers in our communities to unite under one banner and say enough is enough.Anyone who questions "what has the union done for us" must realise that each individual is the union.
Shipmate, Depressed isolated dockworker. Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 10:14

With all the talk about EU memebership and so called laws in particular on employment, why are we being told to take a pay cut and work more hours? I thought the EU was to help us and improve our rights within the work place.Its seems that we have no real rights and anyone who does not go along with management decisions are not in their job for long!Keep your heads up high!
CHRIS, Campo Grande Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 09:52

abp has a employer has been going down hill for a few years now the problem to many mangers who are just out of unni who havnt got a clue and the rest are stuck in there ivory towers good look to the real workers.
clee man, cleethorpes Report abuse
commented on 09-Jun-2009 11:31

Chris, lincolnshire...are you on ABP's management team? O.K., there was obviously a misquote/ misprint, it doesn't take a genius to work that one out! But I get the feeling you want the days back where groups of able bodied men gathered on street corners waiting in hope for a 'gaffers' man to bestow work for that day upon them (very poorly paid work, I might add!), 'cos if you do, then you may as well go the whole hog, and get all of your children/ grandchildren who are old enough to walk, and give them a brush and force them to clean chimneys!! And as for a stranglehold, it's the port workers who are being slowly and deliberately choked hence the demo. almost everyone wants the company they work for to be successful and profitable, but to do this at the expense of their workforce (or should I say the manual grades) is wrong which ever way you wrap it! And I know that there are a lot of people unemployed at the moment, and I can sympathise with their plight, and I might well be joining them very soon, but to want to go back to the dark days because of that is to seal the working mans fate (and that of his kids) for a very long time to come!! BEWARE.
downtrodden, grimsby Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 21:08

abp want 192 unpaid hours from each man of 20 engineers that is what kevin meant that comes to 2800 hours we are not voluntary workers
john, grimsby Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 17:26

kevin quoted 3000 extra unpaid hours, it is actually 3800 unpaid hours 20 engineers each would be working 192 extra hours if abp have there way .
john lewsam, grimsby Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 17:20

How many of the countries 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 workers would work 8 full weekends for no extra pay???Not many i imagine?/Oh and make that 12hr days as well!!! No chance i hear you say!! Well thats basically what the lads at the HIT terminal are being asked to do!! They work a 24hr shift rota! There days off being the equivelant of your weekends!! They do an average of 41 hours a week calculated over the whole year. Now somebody decides at a time when supposedly there is less work!!We'll ask these skilled workers to work 184hrs more extra work for no extra cash!!! Oh and to top it off they'll accept no pay rise this year and not reach their bonus targets either!! What do you reckon?? You wanna work there?? Oh and by the way! You have to wash your own overalls!!
george, imm Report abuse
commented on 08-Jun-2009 15:11

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Workers say ‘Hands off my mate’ in march through Grimsby

March and rally, Grimsby town centre

WHERE: Frederick Ward Way
DATE: Saturday, 6th June 2009
TIME: 11:30am

On Saturday 6th June at 11:30am, 300 workers from the Associated British Ports (ABP) will march through the town of Grimsby to raise public awareness of ABP’s attack on employees’ terms and conditions and the effect it will have on both workers and the local community.

A ‘Hands off my mate’ themed event will see the ABP workforce take to the streets carrying posters and placards urging ABP’s management to keep away from their working conditions and not to impose redundancies.

This will be followed by a march through Grimsby to the former MFI car park, just off Freeman Street for a rally at 12:15pm. Speakers at the rally will include local MP Austin Mitchell and Unite regional secretary, Davey Hall.

Davey Hall said: “This march will be a fantastic opportunity to show ABP’s management and the people of this town that our members are determined to protect their terms and conditions and jobs.

“The workers have had tremendous support from the local community so we are hoping they will be out in force tomorrow morning.

“Two coaches full of Unite members from Hull will also be joining us on the march to show their support.”

ABP is the largest port company in the UK with over 20 ports around England, Scotland and Wales.

Monday, 8 June 2009

FTA warns UK ports at risk

The UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has cautiously welcomed a report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on shipping’s carbon emissions but warned if implemented it could cause UK ports to lose traffic to continental rivals.

The FTA welcomed the EAC’s promotion of a more robust methodology to determine the UK’s share of international shipping emissions.

But it said that a global approach to shipping emissions is needed to avoid penalising UK businesses.

The FTA’s head of global supply chain policy Christopher Snelling said: “Shipping makes a substantial contribution to the overall carbon footprint of the freight industry so any attempt to address this issue sensibly should be applauded.

“Shipping does need to improve its emissions record, but measures putting the UK on an uneven playing field on a global scale should be avoided.”

The FTA said the EAC report urged the government to impose a system of UK port dues relative to the environmental performance of different ships.

“This would make little difference to emissions on a global scale while putting UK shippers at a serious disadvantage, with cargoes being diverted to major European competitor ports such as Rotterdam, Le Havre, Hamburg and Antwerp,” the FTA warned.
Snelling added: “Proposed increases to light dues, infrastructure and security surcharges mean it is already more expensive to use UK ports. For this reason, FTA strongly opposes the concept of UK port dues.

“Indeed, greater charges could mean deepsea vessels avoid the UK altogether, meaning we are left with only feeder services – this will bring increased costs, time and uncertainty to the UK’s supply chain.

“While no-one can argue with the fact that shipping emissions have to be curbed, we must also be careful that the effect of this isn’t that any freight gets priced onto air services instead.

“As such, the best mechanism to achieve environmental improvement and meet climate change reduction targets is the inclusion of an emissions trading scheme, ideally on a global basis, along with other international activities such as aviation.”

Felixstowe sees first AE1 call

The Port of Felixstowe has welcomed the first call of Maersk Line’s AE1 Asia-Europe service, with the arrival of the Sine Maersk.

The 6,600teu vessel arrived from Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia. It is one of 11 ships of between 6,600 and 8,600teu operating on the service.

A dedicated daily block train has been added to support the additional volume and will be operated by Freightliner.

The service delivers containers to the Birmingham International Freight Terminal at Birch Coppice and increases the number of services Freightliner operates from the port to 21 per day.

Potential Corus closure threatens PD Ports jobs

PD Ports has written to all of its 600 workers at Teesport to inform them that up to 20% of them could be made redundant because of volume decreases.

PD Ports’ CEO David Robinson told IFW it may need to make up to 120 redundancies as steel producer Corus has threatened to close Teesside Cast Products because it claims slab buyers failed to meet an agreement to buy a set volume.

If the plant were to close, the port would potentially lose up to 9m tonnes of dry bulk and 2.4m tonnes of finished slab steel.

Robinson said the port had also been hit by a general downturn in traffic caused by the recession. P&O Ferries confirmed to IFW that it was planning to start using its own staff, rather than PD Ports staff, to lash freight on its ships to save costs.

Robinson said: "We’ve entered a consultation period that takes 90 days. No decisions are going to be made until we’ve got certainty over what’s going to happen with the Corus plant and a clear outlook on our business.

"We have activated a voluntary redundancy scheme, which is the most professional way of doing this in the short term.

"When we know the scale of volunteers, we can start to reposition and react to circumstances."

He added: "It will take us a number of weeks and months to know what the outcome of this will be. Until Corus makes a decision, we won’t be doing anything material with the overall workforce."
Robinson said PD Ports had been in contact with the workers’ union, and so far there had been no indication that strike action would take place.

"For the most part they [union members] were expecting us to do something - they were fully aware of the Corus relationship and the Corus connections.

"While it’s an ongoing process and they didn’t appreciate it, they understood why we need to do what we’re going to do."

Although PD Ports is bracing itself for a downturn in bulk volumes linked to Corus, it is also expecting to increase its container traffic by 27% next year.

Robinson said he wasn’t expecting this growth to mitigate all the job losses, but it may mitigate some.

At the end of last month, Tata Steel UK, an indirect subsidiary of Corus’ parent Tata Steel, reached an agreement with banks to suspend covenants until March 2010, and Tata Steel agreed to invest £425m in the firm.

This has led to speculation that the plant could be saved, although Tata Steel UK has to yet to either confirm or deny the rumours.

However, IFW understands that logistics managers at Corus in Teesside have begun asking for quotes from trailer operators for shipments of factory parts to Turkey.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

New Services by Both Sea and Rail at the Port of Felixstowe

The Port of Felixstowe has welcomed the first call of Maersk Line’s AE1 Asia-Europe service, and, with it, the 28th daily train service from the Suffolk port.
The 6,600 TEU Sine Maersk arrived at the UK’s largest container port from Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia and is one of eleven ships of between 6,600 and 8,600 TEU on the service.
A new daily rail freight service has been added to support the Asia-Europe service. Operated by Freightliner and dedicated to Maersk Line, the 24-wagon train provides a new daily scheduled connection to Birmingham International Freight Terminal at Birch Coppice. This increases the number of services Freightliner operates from the port to 21 per day and brings the number of inland rail terminals with a direct connection to Felixstowe to thirteen.
Commenting on the service, Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, said:
“Felixstowe has been Maersk Line’s main port in the UK for many years, and the arrival of the AE1 service means that all its main east-west services are now calling here. This is a great vote of confidence from one of our major customers and testament to the advantages to UK importers and exporters of shipping through Felixstowe.”
Mark Cornwell, Operations Director, Maersk Line UK & Ireland, commented:
“We are pleased to add the Port of Felixstowe to our AE1 service. This new call enables Maersk Line to make more efficient use of our extensive inland infrastructure, including offering a new, high-cube cleared, daily service to and from Birch Coppice, the ninth rail destination served by Maersk Line from Felixstowe. Our comprehensive inland network and industry-leading vessel reliability create a powerful combination and we look forward to working with the Port of Felixstowe, Freightliner and our customers to make this new call a success.”
Referring to the latest train service, Mr Lewis added:
“An increasing number of our customers are choosing rail as a more environmentally friendly alternative, and we have worked closely with Freightliner and the other train operating companies to ensure there is an unrivalled choice of destination and frequency of services from Felixstowe. We are regularly seeing up to 9,000 containers per week being handled by the port’s two rail terminals, and the new service will help boost both the total number of containers, and the proportion of inland traffic, moving by rail.”
Peter Maybury, MD and Interim CEO, Freightliner Group Ltd., commented:
"We are delighted to add to our already extensive network from the Port of Felixstowe with the introduction of our 21st service, and at the same time endorsing our long term commitment to Maersk. This is consistent with our position as the market leader in inland container transportation in the UK."
The Port of Felixstowe offers a comprehensive daily regional rail distribution network, including ten services to the Midlands, nine services to the North West, seven services to the North East, one service to Scotland and one service to London.

Unite dockers fight back against recession

Unite dock workers from ports across the UK attended a conference in London today (Thursday) to discuss the impact the recession is having on members’ job security and terms of employment.
Brendan Gold, Unite national secretary for docks and waterways said: “Delegates attending the National Docks Conference reported on the impact the recession is having with redundancies and forced changes to working practices in many ports.
“It is clear that some employers are hiding behind the current downturn to force through changes in working agreements which they have been after for many years.
“The conference today has put port employers on a warning that Unite will support all dock workers fighting to protect their jobs and reject changes which result in the fragmentation of the industry and to resist all attempts to take dock work away from dockers.”

Wednesday, 3 June 2009



In 2009, the Group is facing the most challenging environment in
recent times with growth slowing in most markets and many of the
world’s major economies in recession. The financial crisis which
originated in the United States has led to global economic activity
slowing sharply in the last quarter of 2008 and through January and
February of this year and this has already affected Hong Kong.
However, with the support of Central Government’s initiatives, the
Mainland economy has to date maintained healthy domestic demand
and the impact of external economic factors affecting Hong Kong
should be mitigated to a large extent.
In the current global economic environment, the Group is focused on
maintaining strict operational and financial discipline to successfully
execute its business strategy. The Group’s cash position remains
healthy. Looking ahead, although the unprecedented economic
environment will have differing adverse effects on the Group’s various
businesses around the world, overall the Group’s established
businesses are still expected to continue to perform satisfactorily and
the 3 Group to continue to progress. I have full confidence in the long
term future prospects of the Group.
I would like to thank the Board of Directors and all employees around
the world for their loyalty, hardwork, professionalism and contributions
to the Group.

Established Businesses
Ports and Related

While global trade declined sharply in the fourth quarter, the ports and
related services division reported overall growth for the year. Total
throughput for the year increased 2% to 67.6 million twenty-foot
equivalent units (“TEUs”), total revenue grew 4% to HK$39,594
million and EBIT increased 3% to HK$13,236 million. This division is
facing reducing global trade volumes, including in Hong Kong and
other Asian ports, and therefore 2009 is expected to be a more
challenging year.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Strike fear at Dublin box hub

The threat of strike action is hanging over one of Dublin’s largest container terminals because of a dispute between workers and bosses over pay and redundancy.
Marine Terminals, which accounts for around 25% of traffic handled at the port, has made 19 redundancies from its workforce of 81 and is renegotiating workers’ pay because of the economic downturn.
Workers said they were unhappy with the redundancy offer - and as a result only five of the 19 staff members made redundant did so voluntarily - and the new pay levels on offer.
The workers’ union SIPTU-MPGWU has referred the case to the Irish government under the Protection of Employment Act.
SIPTU-MPGWU organiser Oliver McDonagh also said the workers had voted to go on strike, but this was on hold while the case was reviewed by the Irish government.
He said: "We understand that there has to be some redundancies and we do actually understand there are other issues that need to be dealt with as far as other costs are concerned.
"If they had negotiated the redundancy package with us they would have got volunteers and we told them that all the way through the process."
A Peel Ports spokesman said: "It’s extremely regrettable that we have been forced to take this action. We were keen to ensure that we achieved this through voluntary redundancies, but the situation is urgent - we have no other option."
The spokesman added Peel Ports had been in negotiations with the workers’ union for over two months and the wages enjoyed by the terminal’s workers were "far above industry norms".

Shipping accused of doing little to reduce emissions

SHIPPING has taken “little or no action” to police itself on carbon emissions and Britain should therefore renegotiate the European Union’s 2020 climate change targets to take in the industry, according to a critical report from an influential cross-party group of MPs in the UK.

In the interim, the UK should adjust its carbon budget to compensate for the country’s share of global shipping emissions.

The call from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee comes after transport secretary Geoff Hoon last week explicitly committed the government to the inclusion of shipping in the climate change deal that will eventually replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Speaking ahead of the publication today of the document ‘Reducing CO2 and Other Emissions from Shipping’, committee chairman Tim Yeo said: “We deplore the prevarication that has prevented global agreement on how to reduce emissions from international shipping.

“The shipping industry accepts the seriousness of climate change but has taken little or no action to cut its own emissions in absolute terms. Meanwhile, the government has failed to give this issue the attention it deserves.”

A first step would be a more accurate estimate of the UK share of international shipping emissions, replacing the current “weak methodology” based on bunker sales, which underestimates the true figure. The government should not wait for international agreement before tackling the problem and adjust carbon budgets for the rest of the economy downwards in the light of the UK’s share of international shipping emissions, the report said.

Ministers are also urged to make clear their position on emissions trading for shipping, particularly in terms of what cap should be imposed. In addition, a system of UK port dues that vary according to the environmental performance of different ships deserves consideration.

A government-sponsored review of shipping emissions abatement techniques should identify where state support can help UK companies develop technologies that can be retrofitted to existing ships, while air quality regulations governing UK coastal waters should be tightened and the use of cold ironing expanded.

Chamber of Shipping director general Mark Brownrigg said: “The critical tone that comes through is a bit of a surprise. Britain is a country out there leading the interest level, not one that needs to be knocked for inadequate action.”

It was extremely difficult to measure the UK share of international emissions separately, he added. Shipping should therefore be considered as a separate entity, as country by country calculations are almost impossible. Shipping emissions should meanwhile be measured on a worldwide basis while underlying issues are addressed.

Mr Hoon told the International Transport Forum in Leipzig last week that shipping could soon be faced with additional curbs. “[We] will be pressing for both international aviation and shipping to be included in any new climate change deal that is agreed at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December,” he said.

“It is one of the great missed opportunities that aviation and shipping were not tackled effectively by the Kyoto Protocol. That led to over a decade of inaction. We cannot afford to wait any longer. It is vital that we put that right at Copenhagen.”

However, his speech also stressed that improvements in engine and vessel design can go much of the way to achieving the desired reduction, leaving environmentalist hardliners disappointed.


Dubai Ports World, due to build a new £2 billion container port at Shell Haven in the Thames estuary, is believed to have placed all its major projects under review, putting a question mark over the future of the UK development.
The company received planning consent two years ago for a deep-water container terminal at the site in Essex, which is known as London Gateway.
However, the Dubai terminal operator has been forced to review all its development plans after the Gulf Emirate was hit hard by the credit crunch. Sources say it could postpone the development, which is forecast to create more than 14,000 jobs. It will only press ahead with the terminal if it is convinced of its long-term value.
The port was to be part-funded by debt but those markets have closed, putting DP World under more pressure.
If the port is not built, the UK could lose out to Rotterdam as a new fleet of super-sized container ships takes to the seas in the next couple of years. It would also threaten the regeneration of the Thames Gateway area.
Shell Haven is the historic name for the port on the north bank of the Thames Estuary at the eastern end of Thurrock, Essex. For years it was the location of a Shell refinery. During The Second World War the refineries and oil storage tanks at Shell Haven became a sitting target for air raids, notably in September 1940 during the Battle of Britain.
Under DP World’s plan, the 1500-acre Essex site is slated to include the construction of the UK’s largest business and logistics park. The developments are central to the British Government’s wider Thames Gateway regeneration programme. Transport links would be upgraded as part of the plan.
Last week DP World — the world’s fourth-largest container port operator — said at its AGM it had handled 10 per cent less cargo during the first four months of this year than it did in the same period a year ago. This was due to a contraction in maritime trade amid the global recession. The downturn has caused it to review its expansion plans.
DP World confirmed it is in talks to possibly sell aminority stake in itself to a Middle East private equity firm which it has not named.
A successful deal could provide a significant boost to DP World and its shares, which have tumbled more than 70 per cent since they were floated in late 2007. Depending on how it was structured, the buy-in could also give the state-controlled company’s cash-strapped parent a welcome capital injection.