Friday, 14 August 2009

Dublin dockers’ strike is over conditions, not pay

Reading an article on (Peel Ports unions threaten blacklisting over payoffs, Lloyd’s List, August 13) with interest.
The statement issued by Peel Ports regarding the decent salaries of Marine Terminals port operatives at Dublin are not being contested. The level of salary reduction is being contested, but the core issue is not salary rather the radical changes in shift pattern, manning levels and the erosion of current working terms and conditions — all of which are being forced on their staff without consultation with the workers or their union.
The point regarding redundancy packages is outrageously exaggerated. The average figure would be closer to €35,000 ($50,000) not €75,000 as stated by Peel Ports, with some workers receiving as little as €2,500.
Peel Ports’ assertion that this strike is unnecessary is ludicrous in the face of a policy by the company to completely break union representation of its workforce, as it has displayed utter contempt for the industrial relations processes in Ireland and its mechanisms.
One can only hope that Peel Ports’ motives for entering into talks this Monday are more genuine than they have been for any other talks that they have undertaken to date in order to reach a solution to this broadening dispute.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

HPH profit falls 35% as throughput declines

Ports and Related

The sharp reduction in global trade volume that started in the fourth
quarter of last year continued into the first quarter of 2009. During the
second quarter, volumes generally stabilised, albeit at levels well below
2008. This decline has adversely affected the results of the ports and
related services division. The division handled a total throughput of
30.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (“TEUs”) in the first six
months of 2009, 8% lower than that of the same period last year. Total
revenue in local currencies decreased 13% and after translation to
Hong Kong dollars, decreased 21% to HK$15,556 million. The
division’s EBIT in local currencies declined 31% and in Hong Kong
dollars was HK$4,487 million, 35% below the same period last year.
During the first half, the division implemented cost reduction initiatives
targeting to achieve an EBIT percentage decline not greater than the
revenue percentage decline. The full effect of many of these is
expected to be realised in the second half of the year. Although trade
volumes are normally seasonally higher in the second half of the year,
the Group’s current expectation is that trading activity will recover
slowly, presenting a continuing challenge to the division’s full year
earnings prospect.

Full report UNAUDITED RESULTS FOR THE SIX MONTHS ENDED 30 JUNE 2009 can be found here:


In the first half of 2009, the impact of the decline of the global
economy adversely affected several of the Group’s global businesses.
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 have
to date been largely mitigated.
The global economy has not regained its strength and in this difficult
economic environment, the Group will continue to focus on
maintaining strict operational and financial discipline. The Group’s
liquidity remains healthy. Although the economic environment will
have differing adverse effects on the Group’s various businesses
around the world, looking ahead, the Group’s established businesses
are expected to continue to be profitable and to perform satisfactorily,
and the 3 Group is expected to continue to progress. The Group’s
second half performance should be better than the first half and I have
full confidence in the long term prospects of the Group.
I would like to thank the Board of Directors and all employees around
the world for their loyalty, hard work, professionalism and
contributions to the Group.

Li Ka-shing
Hong Kong, 13 August 2009

British and Irish unions come together to plan campaign to defend port jobs

ITF, ICTU, SIPTU and Unite to plan co-ordinated campaign to support Dublin strikers and defend conditions for port workers in Britain, Ireland and Europe

The International Transport Workers Federation, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, SIPTU and Unite held a joint meeting in Belfast today to plan a co-ordinated campaign to defend jobs and working conditions in Peel Ports facilities. “The dispute at the Peel Ports owned Marine Terminals facility in Dublin has provided a wake up calls for all of us”, the head of Unite’s Docks and Waterways division Brendan Gold said after today’s meeting.
“We are now undertaking an urgent information exercise across Ireland and Britain to support our colleagues in Dublin in every way possible.” Unite is the largest trade union in the United Kingdom, and the second largest in Ireland.
ICTU Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting said, “The Irish Congress of Trade Unions right across the island of Ireland are fully supportive of those on strike and we will utilise whatever power is in our remit to ensure that the rights of workers are not trampled on”.
ITF inspector Ken Fleming said, “Unite was appalled at hearing the circumstances of the dispute in Dublin port described to them by the SIPTU delegation. I am delighted that Unite has committed to do whatever it can to support the strikers in their battle. They immediately recognised the implications of the dispute for working conditions in Britain and indeed Europe if Peel Ports are allowed to develop a template in Dublin they can then apply to drive down pay and conditions everywhere.”
SIPTU Marine Port Division Organiser Oliver McDonagh said, “We very much welcome the support we have received today and look forward to co-ordinating our dispute with our colleagues in other ports. We have no choice but to escalate this dispute because of the intransigence of the company and the ruthless way in which it has tried to de-unionise Marine Terminals, even to the extent of retaining the services of the international security firm, Control Risks.”

Peel Ports cuts more staff

Peel Ports has confirmed it has placed an extra 15 workers at Marine Terminals (MTL) in Dublin and six workers its Victoria Terminal 3 at the port of Belfast on notice of redundancy.
A spokesman for the Peel Ports said: “On 28 July 15 staff at Dublin were placed on notice that their positions were at risk of redundancy.
“Six staff at Belfast, from a total workforce of 47, have been placed in the same position and individual consultations are due to begin today (13 August).”
MTL has so far made 19 members of the 81-strong workforce redundant, with five of those being voluntary.
Peel Ports had brought in staff from the Belfast terminal to work at Dublin to cover for MTL workers who are on strike because of disagreements with Peel Ports over the redundancies and new pay levels and working conditions.
The spokesman said further talks with MTL workers are scheduled for 17 August.
Victoria Terminal 3 at the Port of Belfast handles nearly 200,000 units and lists among its customers Express Line, Samskip, CMA CGM, Coastal Container Line and BG Freight Line.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

.Dockers' unions target BG Freight Line vessels

DOCKERS’ unions are threatening to blacklist vessels operated by Peel Ports Group subsidiary BG Freight Line and request to colleagues in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg to refuse to work its ships in solidarity with a dispute at Peel-owned Marine Terminals in Dublin.

Other tactics under consideration include protests outside the company’s ports on mainland Britain, which include Liverpool and Sheerness, although employment legislation in the UK is likely to rule out official industrial action.

The move follows a joint meeting of the International Transport Workers Federation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union and Unite in Belfast this morning.

The Marine Terminals dispute centres on redundancy pay-offs, with SIPTU accusing the company of replacing the workforce with lower paid, non-unionised employees from Scotland, Northern Ireland and other parts of Ireland.

Union sources said that because the company had ordered cross-border strikebreaking, something that the ITF considers absolutely inadmissible, issues of principle were at stake and that a hard line will be taken.

Brendan Gold, head of Unite’s docks and waterways division, said: “The dispute at the Peel Ports-owned Marine Terminals facility in Dublin has provided a wake up calls for all of us. We are now undertaking an urgent information exercise across Ireland and Britain to support our colleagues in Dublin in every way possible.”

SIPTU port organiser Oliver McDonagh said: “We very much welcome the support we have received today and look forward to co-ordinating our dispute with our colleagues in other ports. We have no choice but to escalate this dispute because of the intransigence of the company and the ruthless way in which it has tried to deunionise Marine Terminals.”

BG Freight managing director Ron Schippers said that he had not yet been informed of the move. A spokesman for Peel Ports Group as a whole was not immediately available for comment.

Dublin dispute set to spread to other Peel Ports facilities

By: padraigyeates
Five weeks long dispute at Marine Terminals dispute in Dublin set to spread to other Peel Ports facilities in Britain and EuropeAugust 10th, 2009
Unions representing dock workers in Ireland and Britain are due to meet in Belfast on Wednesday to consider a request from SIPTU for solidarity action to be taken in support of workers locked in a five week long dispute at Marine Terminals in Ringsend, Dublin. The dispute erupted after the new owners of the facility, Peel Ports, embarked on a campaign to replace the existing workforce with lower paid, non-unionised employees.
“In response to a request from SIPTU, the Unite trade union in the UK and Ireland, in conjunction with the International Transport Workers Federation, has agreed to organise solidarity activities in support of the striking workers”, the UK Ports of Convenience Co-ordinator Mike Gibbons said this evening. “We believe that if Peel Ports succeeds in its anti-union campaign in Dublin it will attempt to displace unionised workers in every other port on these islands.” He added that solidarity action against Peel Ports could extend to ports outside Ireland and Britain if required.
Earlier today Dublin Port was brought to a standstill as local community groups in East Wall and Ringsend, where most of the Marine Terminals workers live, staged a protest on the East Link Bridge and at the approaches to the facility. “The workers have shown a strong commitment to the plant over many years and they depend on the terminal for continued employment”, the International Transport Federation inspector for Ireland, Ken Fleming, said today.
“Since Peel Ports took over the facility last year it has tried to drive through a plan to replace existing workers with cheaper, less skilled and even untrained workers. The company has refused to engage in meaningful negotiations with SIPTU and has brought in workers from Scotland, Northern Ireland and other parts of the Republic to break the strike.
“Industrial action was only taken after the company issued compulsory redundancy notices to over 50 per cent of the workforce and demanded others sign new contracts involving pay cuts of 14 per cent to 18 per cent and much poorer working conditions.
“While further protests and demonstrations of support will take place over the coming weeks it is clear that Peel Ports has as much contempt for the local community in which its plant is located as it has for the people it employs. In these circumstances we have no choice but to mobilise our resources internationally to make the company engage in serious negotiations with the workforce.”
The company have agreed to engage in talks at a local level. Hopefully this is a genuine attempt to move closer to a resolution and not another shambolic gesture, designed solely for the purpose of the company saying that they were available and tried. The outcome of every meeting to-date has been predetermined as the company has come along with no intention of meaningful negotiation, having made up their minds long in advance.
A heartfelt thank you to the local men & women who again came out in support of the striking workers. The endorsement shown by our communities means a great deal to the folks on the picket line who are forced by law, allow Marine Terminals to operate unhindered day after day. Your show of solidarity reveals the management and scabs of Peel Ports for what they really are; COWARDS!With your continued support we cannot and must not fail.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

I wish I'd had a few £'s in 1933!

Trinity’s growing portfolio
SURPRISE in some quarters that Trinity College, Cambridge, has been able to bid £20m ($33m) for the O2 arena, formerly London’s Millennium Dome, shows that not everyone appreciates the commercial sense of acadaemia wealth.
The biggest of Trinity’s numerous assets across the UK is most of the ground on which the Port of Felixstowe stands, notably Trinity container terminal.
The man still honoured by the college for this was Tressilian Nicholas, senior bursar for the years of depression between the wars when property prices were low. He had been maps officer for the failed Gallipoli landings, but never lost his optimistic outlook.
When the vast Trimley estate came on the market in 1933 he persuaded the college council to buy it for £14 an acre. Its members were not happy because they would be lumbered with an Orwell estuary salt marsh they perceived as “useless”. They argued it might have to be defended against tidal surges. It now makes £3m a year from the port and an associated industrial estate, tax-free, because the college is a benevolent charity.;.065acf6a61c52eed94766d1ba7da5d95d4ecd58a

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Dublin dockers.

Copied from a comment on an earlier post.

The Dublin dockers won their case today when Peel tried to have them jailed 4 picketing the port. WooHoo!
They're havin a march on Mon @ 10.30 starting from Seam Moore r'bout Ringsend, Dublin. Pls support & fwd this.
Seán, Dublin SF

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Virginia to cut 20% of staff

The US east coast port of Virginia has announced a 20% cut in its container handling workforce after 18 months of declining volumes.
Operator Virginia International Terminals (VIT) said both cargo volumes and associated revenue in the year ending 30 June were down by nearly 25%.
Already 90 of its 452-strong workforce have been made redundant.
VIT CEO Joe Dorto said: “Unfortunately, the sustained recession in global markets has overtaken VIT and we are no longer able to financially support our current operating model.
“This is the most difficult day in my 40 year career.”
In 2008 Virginia handled just over 2m teu, down 2.1% on 2007, according to Cargo Systems’ Top 100 Container Ports with a 15% market share on the east coast.
From January to June this year it handled 832,052teu, compared with 1,035,975teu in the same period in 2008, a decline of nearly 20%.

Ports advised to carry out tests on Morris cranes

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recommended ports carry out tests on cranes built by the same manufacturer as the one that collapsed in Southampton.
The HSE said it was concerned about dockside cranes that have a tubular collared or sleeved backstay, particularly where final assembly has taken place on site and welding has taken place in wet weather or allows water ingress.
It also said: "The particular Morris Crane involved in the incident was installed in 1993, and although there are few if any identical designs in the UK, there may be others worldwide.
"As a precautionary measure it may be advisable for users of any Morris dockside crane to have the backstays non-destructive testing tested for reassurance."
On 13 July, the boom of crane 6 collapsed at DP World Southampton container terminal while it was loading the 6,500teu NYK Themis, seriously injuring the crane’s driver.
DP World Southampton MD Campbell Mason has announced he is leaving the job.
On 8 July, Mason told staff he was leaving as he wanted to return to his native Australia when his assignment concludes at the end of this year.