Thursday, 22 July 2010

Lock-out shuts box terminals at Montreal

No containers have been unloaded at the Candian port of Montreal after terminal managers ordered a lock-out of workers in response to a dispute over working hours and wages.

Port landlord the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), which claimed a neutral stance, said that since the lock-out, not a single container had been loaded or unloaded and called for a swift resolution to the dispute.

It said: “All the port’s marine activities stopped following the lock-out. Furthermore, rail operations and truck traffic were halted when picket lines went up. Consequently, no container has entered or left the port since Monday morning.”

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) called for an immediate return to negotiations by the employers’ association, the Maritime Employers Association (MEA).

The ITF said that on 27 June, the MEA changed the working conditions of 169 dockers with the least seniority.

In response, the longshoremen refused to work overtime from 9 July, prompting the lock-out.

Frank Leys, Dockers’ Section Secretary of the ITF, said: “A solution to the dispute at the port was within everyone’s reach. This lock-out risks kicking it over the horizon and out of sight.”

“We’d remind the employers’ association that overtime is voluntary and not providing it is not a reason to be shut out of your job.

“Renegotiation of an existing agreement – which is what this is all about – isn’t done by barring the doors on those affected.

“Negotiation is the only way forward. The union is willing. It’s up to the employers to rescind this pointless ban and resume talks.”

The MEA said: “Considering existing market conditions, the MEA can no longer accept such a large gap between the amount of hours worked and paid for by longshoremen and the amount of hours not worked but fully paid for.

“MEA’s management team believes that while this is not a desirable outcome, it had no other choice but to order a lock-out, given that pressure tactics had begun to impede port operations.”

The two parties have agreed to begin negotiations, with the help of a federal mediator, tomorrow.;jsessionid=AA2733369AC7213E75A3EF42DFFEB126.5d25bd3d240cca6cbbee6afc8c3b5655190f397f

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Containers still burning a week after fire on Maersk ship began

More than 100 containers are still burning on board the Charlotte Maersk seven days after the blaze began.

Maersk Line said the fire started last Wednesday at around 9pm local time close to Port Klang, Malaysia, and had been brought under control.

A spokesman for the Danish carrier said this morning that at the height of the blaze, 150 containers were burning at temperatures approaching 1,000 degrees Celcius.

He said 130 containers were still burning.

The line said: “The temperatures are very high and it is impossible for firefighters to approach before additional cooling has taken place.

“This is one of the reasons why the fire extinguishing takes time and why it is difficult to estimate when the fire will be extinguished.”

It added: “Maersk Line cannot speculate on when the fire will be extinguished. The priority remains the continued safety of the crew, vessel and cargo, and the company will take the time needed to ensure a successful resolution of the situation on board Charlotte Maersk.

“Once it will be safe to discharge containers, we will do so, ensuring a minimum of delay to customers’ cargo.”

There are no reported injuries to the 21 crew members from Denmark, India, the Philippines and Ukraine.

Uncofirmed reports suggest the fire started when one of the containers exploded. By Thursday morning, the fire had been restricted to the foredeck of the vessel.

Currently there are four firefighting tug boats and two Malaysian Coast Guard vessels at the scene.

The 8,200teu Charlotte Maersk had left Port Klang and was heading to Salalah, Oman, when the drama began.;jsessionid=53DB62AF206FDF8D54509CD449758F8E.065acf6a61c52eed94766d1ba7da5d95d4ecd58a