Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Port workers edge closer to strike

Fresh talks will take place in the New Year over a proposed pay increase for port workers after a ballot indicated they would be willing to take industrial action.
Quayside workers said 1,577 voted in favour of action with 30 no votes and two spoiled ballot papers - rejecting the one per cent pay offer and sending a clear message to management.
It is now expected union officials from Unite, formerly the Transport and General Workers' Union, will meet bosses in early January to get management reaction and see if an improved pay offer will be made.
If no acceptable new offer is received, the next stage will be a postal ballot on industrial action.
One port worker said: “Quite often we have seen a ballot like this being much closer - people sometimes have second thoughts when industrial action is mentioned and chicken out - but this will send a strong message to management about how people are feeling.”
Another worker said: “The strength of feeling is huge - it's been a very busy year and we took a big pay cut to help the company.”
Union officials apparently asked the company for 5pc plus a £500 lump sum for each worker to make up for the two days' compulsory unpaid leave workers had to take this year as part of the earlier cuts.
Changes this year included scrapping of all bonus schemes, compulsory unpaid leave, axing of the “hot seat” changeover payments, removal of canteen subsidies, and closure of the port on Boxing Day.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Port vote result expected this week

UNION officials at Britain's biggest container port will this week announce the result of a vote which could take the workforce to the brink of industrial action.
It is understood the 2,700-strong workforce at Felixstowe was offered a one per cent pay rise - after earlier this year accepting changes to contracts which meant a “temporary pay cut” of between six and 11 per cent, depending on their contract package.
An initial ballot organised by the union Unite overwhelmingly rejected the offer with nearly 1,600 workers against the one pc and less than 20 in favour.(16 in favour)
Union officials had apparently asked the company for a five pc pay increase plus a £500 lump sum for each worker to make up for the two days compulsory unpaid leave workers had to take this year as part of the earlier cuts.
Over the past few days, the four shifts at the port have been voting on whether they would be prepared to take part in a strike ballot.( It's industrial action that we are balloting on not strike!)
If they vote yes, a postal ballot on industrial action will be organised. If they vote no, the one pc pay rise will be accepted.
One port worker said: “People are very frustrated.“
The port made us take huge pay cuts because of the recession but the situation hasn't been as bad as they predicted.
“They said there would be no work and we had to make sacrifices to keep our jobs, but the quays have not been empty and we have had a busy year.”
Changes this year included the scrapping of all bonus schemes, compulsory unpaid leave, axing of the “hot seat” changeover payments, removal of canteen subsidies, and closure of the port on Boxing Day.
Phil Pemberton, convenor for Unite, formerly the Transport and General Workers' Union, was not available for comment.
Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for the Port of Felixstowe, said the company did not comment on union ballots.


Friday, 18 December 2009


High Court denies BA cabin crew right to strike - but Unite determined to reballot.

On the ruling of the High Court today (Thursday), which has not upheld Unite the union's ballot of more than 12,000 cabin crew members, Unite joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: "While we have never wanted this dispute it is a disgraceful day for democracy when a court can overrule such an overwhelming decision by employees taken in a secret ballot.
"We will of course be studying the judgement, but the fact remains that this dispute is not settled. Passing the buck to the courts to do management’s job for them was never going to be the answer.
“BA must accept that there can be no resolution except through negotiation, failing which there will inevitably be a further ballot for industrial action.
"Given the clear mood of cabin crew about management’s imposition of changes on their working lives, this means that the spectre of further disruption to the company’s operations cannot be removed. Only a negotiated agreement can do that.”


Thursday, 17 December 2009

Marshalls to supply 330,000m2 of its Machine Lay Keyblok paving to the Port of Felixstowe

The construction of the new 730m quay for clients Hutchinson Port Holdings forms part of the UK’s Port Expansion programme and will allow berthing of deep water container ships with an increased capacity of 1.5m containers per annum.
Marshalls has just secured its largest single commercial order to supply 330,000m2 of its specialist Machine Lay Keyblok paving to the Port of Felixstowe – that’s the equivalent to the size of 47 Wembley football pitches.
Marshalls entered final negotiations with Costain Ltd recently to secure the £3 million order and the project will commence in January 2010, providing Marshalls Sandy works with a full order book.
Steve Attfield, Marshalls Commercial Manager commented “Some of the numbers we are talking about here are huge. Just to put the contract into perspective, an area the size of 47 Wembley football pitches will be installed in under 12 months. That’s over 2,300 full wagon loads of material. We are absolutely delighted to have secured this order.”
Pioneering machine lay techniques have been a crucial factor in securing this major contract. The speed and efficiency of the machine laying will enable vast areas of block paving to be laid by a minimal number of skilled operatives in a safe and controlled manner.
Marshalls has already supplied the Port of Felixstowe with more than 230,000m2 of its Keyblok paving, giving an additional 23 hectar container storage area able to withstand the constant movement and load impacts of various goods that are stored at such a major cargo port.


I'm wondering if with the port signing up to 10:10, will the materials be coming by road? Also will the job be better than the surfaces we have to bounce across now?

Postal ballots.

I've been thinking about this today.
As a union we need to make sure that if the company are going to take this dispute all the way that we are ready to take them on in a legal way.
What you need to do is make sure that all your details are upto date so if we have to go to a postal ballot we get the papers to the right place.
Don't go moaning afterwards if you haven't bothered to keep your details updated.


Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited (‘HPUK’) says it has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint. The Port of Felixstowe, Harwich International Port and London Thamesport have signed up to the 10:10 initiative; a national drive to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 10% during 2010. The ports, all owned and operated by HPUK, have made the commitment to cut their carbon emissions by 10% as part of a wider national effort to significantly reduce the output of greenhouse gasses. David Gledhill, Chief Executive Officer of HPUK, said: "Signing up to 10:10 is evidence of our commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses and lessen the impact of our operations on the environment. Low carbon supply chains are increasingly important and we have a major role to play in helping our customers achieve them. In addition to reducing our own footprint, we are investing in rail to provide low carbon options beyond the port, and working with our customers and tenants to supply port-centric logistic solutions. There are already more frequent rail departures from Felixstowe, to more destinations, moving more containers, than any other UK port. This latest commitment reinforces our position as the low-carbon option for shippers and shipping lines." HPUK says it pursuing a “whole range of initiatives to improve its environmental performance”. These include an ‘Eco-RTG’ project to reduce emissions from its fleet of Rubber-Tyred Gantry Cranes (RTGs) by up to 50%, smart crane lighting to improve energy efficiency of its 24-hour operations, and a car-sharing scheme for employees.


Maersk agrees $498 mln sale of Norfolkline to DFDS

COPENHAGEN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk will sell its Norfolkline ferry unit to Denmark's DFDS for cash and shares worth about 346 million euros ($498 million), the companies said on Thursday.
Under the deal, Maersk will get a 31 percent stake in ferry operator DFDS and 170 million euros in cash, Maersk and DFDS said separately.
"The sale of Norfolk Holdings B.V. is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2010 and is not expected to have a significant impact on the result of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S," Maersk said.
The parties have agreed to a lock-up period of 24 months on the DFDS shares from completion of the deal, Maersk said.
Norfolkline Chief Executive Niels Smedegaard said that the deal would boost Norfolkline's position as a ferry and freight operator in northern Europe, adding operations in the English Channel and the Irish Sea to its North Sea base.
"This is a perfect match," Smedegaard said. "The integration of our companies will generate considerable synergies and we expect this transaction to improve our earnings capability once the market recovers."
The deal is subject approval by relevant competition authorities and approval of the share issue by DFDS's extraordinary general meeting, the companies said.
The company to be formed by the combination of Norfolkline and DFDS will have pro forma 2009 revenues of about 1.5 billion euros and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 139 million, DFDS said.
Maersk shares traded down 1.4 percent at 36,500 crowns and DFDS shares were off 1.0 percent at 337 crowns by 1141 GMT, underperforming a 0.4 percent fall in the Copenhagen bourse bluechip index.
DFDS said in May it was discussing a possible "transaction" of Norfolkline with Maersk, and Maersk said it was talking with potential interested parties about a transaction involving Norfolkline.


Port workers set to vote for strike action

QUAYSIDE workers at Britain's biggest container port today begin voting on the possibility of industrial action after rejecting a pay offer.
It is understood the 2,700-strong workforce at Felixstowe was offered a one per cent pay rise - after earlier this year accepting changes to contracts which meant a “temporary pay cut” of between six and 11 per cent, depending what package people are on.
An initial ballot organised by the union Unite overwhelmingly rejected the offer with nearly 1,600 workers against the one pc and less than 20 in favour.
Union officials had apparently asked the company for five per cent plus a £500 lump sum for each worker to make up for the two days compulsory unpaid leave workers had to take this year as part of the earlier cuts.
Last minute negotiations yesterday failed to bring a breakthrough, with no new offer from management on the table.
Over the next few days, the four shifts at the port will all vote on whether they would be prepared to take part in a strike ballot.
If they vote yes, a postal ballot on industrial action will be organised. If they vote no, the one pc pay rise will be accepted.Phil Pemberton, convenor for Unite, formerly the Transport and General Workers' Union, was not available for comment.
Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for the Port of Felixstowe, said the company did not comment on union ballots.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ballot for industrial action.

This will take place at Trinity union office, Next to Centenary House Trinity terminal.

THURSDAY 17-12-090

SATURDAY 19-12-09

MONDAY 21-12-09

WEDNESDAY 23-12-09


The unions recommendation is that you vote YES to industrial action.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

First ever 30-wagon train

Freghtliner’s first PowerHaul locomotive 70001 has completed operational trials hauling, the first ever 30-wagon train to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
Following a test run last week, the PowerHaul locomotive today conveyed a train of 60 imported boxes to Freightliner’s terminal in Birmingham before returning later that night with exports.
With higher haulage and acceleration capabilities, the PowerHaul locos are able to increase payloads per train and could remove more than 120 lorries from the UK’s roads for each return trip.
Adam Cunliffe, managing director of Freightliner said: “We currently operate 21 daily services from the Port of Felixstowe, and until developments within the port are completed the number of train slots are limited. By use our new PowerHaul locomotives we are able to increase the capacity available to our customers while improving our carbon footprint.”


Monday, 14 December 2009

Asia-Europe box traffic steadies

Container volume declines on the Asia to Europe trade have stabilised over the last few months, while freight rates in September crept back to last year’s levels.
Figures from the European Liner Affairs Association (ELAA), show that 962,800teu was moved from Asia to Europe, 10% down on October last year.
In September, volumes were also 10% down year-on-year, while in August they were 12% down, figures which represent improvement on the 22% decline experienced over the first six months of the year.
Meanwhile ELAA’s price index for the Asia to Europe trade hit 78 in September, assuming a 2008 average of 100, the index’s highest level this year and compares with March’s figure of 48.


Teesport counting the cost

The full extent of job and volume losses at Teesport following the partial closure in the new year of its biggest customer Corus’s plant is still unknown.
A spokeswoman for Teesport owner PD Ports said it would hold talks with Corus following the steel producer’s announcement on 4 December that it planned to mothball Redcar Blast Furnace, Lackenby steelmaking and the South Bank Coke Ovens at the end of January.
However, Corus said it intended to keep open a number of operations, including the Redcar Wharf, Redcar Coke Ovens and some of the power-generating capacity.
In July, PD Ports wrote to workers to tell them it may make up to 120 redundancies because Corus had threatened to close Teesside Cast Products and because of recession-related volume reductions.
The spokeswoman said: "The news is extremely disappointing, but given previous announcements by Corus and the lack of a positive conclusion to discussions with potential offtakers and investors in TCP, it is not especially surprising.
"The 120 job losses quoted in July when Corus announced that part of the Corus TCP site would be mothballed, was prior to the restructuring activity that our business has engaged in over recent months.
"Additionally, the growth in areas such as the container handling operations at Teesport will help us mitigate some of the impact on our employees. But further work needs to be concluded.
"Until we receive more definitive information from Corus on the implications of this closure, it is too early to understand the level of impact the announcement will have on PD Ports, but this is not good news."
Last week, Teesport announced it had handled more than 100,000 containers in a single year for the first time.
It had also recently announced a new contract with shipper Taylors of Harrogate to handle more than 1,000 containers of imported tea and coffee a year, and Taiwanese container line Evergreen has started to deliver containers to Teesport following the opening of a Tesco’s distribution centre there.
In July, PD Ports welcomed UK government approval for it to build a woodfuelled power station at Teesport, which would bring in an extra 2m tonnes of traffic when it opened in 2012.
Last month, it was confirmed PD Ports had been sold by Babcock and Brown Infrastructure to Brookfield Asset Management.

Friday, 11 December 2009

MSC UK gets AEO status

I hope that this next press release doesn't mean that we will get more misdeclared units. Something needs to be done to stop boxes coming to us with wrong weights on them before somebody gets hurt. Nobody wants another MSC Napoli or an IMV turning over because the front box has too much weigh in it. I am not pointing the finger at MSC but the whole industry.

MSC’s UK business has been approved by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO).
Recognition under the EU scheme enables businesses to have their consignments fast-tracked through customs’ controls and if a consignment is selected for examination it will receive priority over non-AEOs.
AEO’s get a lower “risk score”, which will be incorporated into HRMC's risk management systems and used to determine the frequency of customs physical and documentary checks.
AEOs are also allowed to omit certain data elements from pre-arrival and pre-departure summary declarations.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “The AEO scheme is the way forward for businesses involved in the international supply chain.
“It shows they are committed to raising their security and safety standards, which will be of benefit to themselves, their business partners and assists in the development of their long-term relationship with HMRC."
To achieve AEO status, businesses have to prove they are compliant, safe and secure and are subject to an audit run by customs.
AEO is recognised across the whole EU and it is hoped that mutual recognition of similar systems, across other third countries, will take place in the future.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dubai World's woes will not affect Rotterdam Gateway

Rotterdam Port Authority is convinced DP World’s investment in the Rotterdam World Gateway container terminal on Maasvlakte Two will go ahead, despite its parent company’s restructuring.
The port authority said that while DP World was a subsidiary of Dubai World, this did not mean that it was involved in its parent’s problems.
In addition, with a share of 30%, DP World is just one of five companies that together form Rotterdam World Gateway, MOL, Hyundai, APL and CMA CGM being the others.
“The Port of Rotterdam Authority has very regular contact with all the container companies that are active in Rotterdam, during which the consequences of the economic crisis are a recurring topic of conversation,” it said.
It added that the APM Terminals facility, which is also being built on Maasvlakte Two, and the 4m teu Rotterdam World Gateway were sticking to the current schedule.
This means that Rotterdam World Gateway will start operation of its terminal in 2013, and APM Terminals in 2014.
At the end of last month, the government of Dubai, acting through the Supreme Fiscal Committee (SFC), authorised the Dubai Financial Support Fund to spearhead the restructure of state-owned conglomerate Dubai World.
Dubai World intended to ask all providers of financing to allow a freezing of repayments and extend maturities until at least 30 May 2010.
However, DP World said the government of Dubai had confirmed that DP World and its debt were not included in the restructuring process for Dubai World.


Ballot result on company pay offer of 1%

For 16
Against 1599

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Teesport container volumes break annual record

PD Ports’ Teesport facility has handled over 100,000 containers in a year for the first time in its history.
The north-east UK port reached the milestone last month and Frans Calje, PD Ports’ MD for unitised traffic, said: “We are delighted that in these difficult economic times our efforts have clearly out-performed the market.
“We are really proud of what has been achieved at Teesport this year. We expect to reach this benchmark earlier each year as we move forward.”
Over the last few months, PD Ports has unveiled new container contract wins.
It announced a contract with shipper Taylors of Harrogate, to handle more than 1,000 containers of imported tea and coffee a year, and Taiwanese box carrier Evergreen started to deliver containers to Teesport following the opening of Tesco’s distribution centre.


APL reports 23% volume growth

APL’s container volumes increased by 23% year-on-year from mid-October to mid-November, but this failed to materialise into an increase in revenues per 40ft container.
The NOL-owned carrier said it handled 416,000teu between 17 October and 13 November (period 11), up from 339,000 for the same period last year.
Meanwhile, its revenues per forty-foot equivalent unit (feu) for the period were 28% down year-on-year at US$2,239.
During the previous four week period, APL moved around 423,400teu, a 14% improvement on the same period last year.
Over this same period, APL generated revenues of $2,254 per feu, which was 29% down on last year. Between mid-August and mid-September its revenues per feu came to $2,247.
The carrier’s year-to-date volumes for period 11 were 12% down on 2008, while its revenues per feu 24% down on the previous year.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Long-term parking

There is clearly no current commercial need for DP World's London Gateway container terminal and, let's face it, there's unlikely to be for some years. Behind the brave faces and talk of fiexamining all the optionsfl, it's just not going to happen anytime soon.
With the Felixstowe South development under way and due to enter some sort of operation in the next couple of years, there will be plenty of capacity to handle the country's imports, even if they return to 2007 levels in an unexpectedly short time.
Which makes the request of Thurrock Council to borrow - or however the financing is structured - money to fund the development of the logistics park adjoining the port plainly ridiculous.
The whole point of the enormous London Gateway logistics park was to almost instantly create the type of fiport clusterfl that makes ports attractive to lines and their customers.
But there's no point in having that logistics park until the terminal also exists.


Council bids to help fund logistics park

A UK council has applied for financial support for the development of Europe’s largest logistics park, close to the site of the proposed London Gateway container terminal.
DP World London Gateway confirmed that Thurrock Council had responded to a government request for councils to apply for funding for infrastructure projects.
IFW understands Thurrock Council applied for funding because of concerns that the 884,000sq metre logistics park project would not be viable without government intervention, after developer DP World revealed financial concerns.
DP World announced in March that it was putting development of the London Gateway logistics park and container terminal on hold because of volume declines.
A DP World London Gateway spokesman said: "London Gateway [port and logistics park] remains under review.
"We are exploring a variety of funding options, one of which was to explore the possibility of London Gateway Park taking part in the UK government’s open call for pilot Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) projects, announced in the summer.
"Thurrock Council submitted an application in July to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and we await the outcome of that process."
A spokesman for the DCLG said there was no guarantee that the government would adopt the TIF scheme, as it was still at the consultation stage.
And the DP World spokesman said that even if the government went ahead with the scheme, there had been 124 applications for funds from councils, so Thurrock’s might not be successful.
He also stressed that the application had been made in regard to the development of the logistics park, not the 3.5m teu container terminal, contrary to some reports.
The government is expected to announce this week whether it will go ahead with the funding scheme for accelerated development zones, as TIFs are also known.
DP World received some good news towards the end of last month, when the European Investment Bank announced it would provide up to £300m (US$500m) worth of funding towards the development of the £1.5bn London Gateway terminal.
It has already benefited from €14.1m ($21.2m) from the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency for dredging work.


Maersk container boss sees box upturn in Asia

Copenhagen: Maersk Line chief executive Eivind Kolding says his company expects container export trades from Asia to grow by 3-8% in 2010. The A P Moller-Maersk director sees the first signs of rising cargo volumes, with liftings up in November compared with one year ago. But 2010 will nevertheless be "extremely challenging". He does not, however, subscribe to the double-dip philosophy and expects volumes to continue to grow, though not in a linear fashion.
Kolding anticipates that the number of container ships laid-up by the company will peak during this slack season, after Christmas in the west, probably rising from today's 16-17 vessels by a few more units. However, he says, laid-up ships will not include any of the company's largest vessels - these are still working effectively, with good load factors, through close cooperation with partners in vessel-sharing arrangements.
In fact, Kolding points out that most of the container vessels laid up so far are in the medium sizes, notably Panamax units, underscoring that the company's pioneering move into operating the world's largest container vessels was the right one.
None of the company's 40-odd newbuildings are likely to be laid up either, Kolding says. "Although 40 ships seems a high number," he says, "in relative terms, it's really quite modest. They will mostly deliver through 2011/12 and, by then, we will need them."
Maersk today operates a fleet of about 460 container ships, of which a little over half are owned vessels. The company has redelivered a number of chartered vessels this year, as well as recycling some nine older leased units in China. A clear demonstration of its green initiatives, the company has netted about $18m less from this recycling process than it could have made by running the ships on to the beach. [04/12/09]

Top 25 union blogs!

I've just found out that I'm number 11 in the top 25 union blogs. I think I only got there because of the amount of posts I do to keep my workmates up to date with issues concerning the dock industry. But hey I'm nearly top 10! Never mind the quality here's the quantity!


Hamburg to reduce transhipment charges by 50%

THE port of Hamburg is to reduce its charges in an attempt to regain lost transhipment volumes.“We will introduce a scheme which will see cost cuts of up to 50% per single transhipment container,” said Hamburg’s port senator Axel Gedaschko.


Friday, 4 December 2009