Felistowe Dockers

Felistowe Dockers

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Ports / Docks are dangerous places to work whatever your job tiltle might be


To all you employers out there thinking about out sourcing / having casual labour within your Port. This is what skilled Dockers deal with every day somewhere in the world.


Yet Again, we here see a proof that working as a Docker, is very dangerous, and this job is not ment to go to unskilled Labour WHO have no training.



We all believe that it will never happen to 
us!!!!! this is dock work, it does and it will happen.


The majority of Dockers around the world are paid a good wage, the above pictures are one of the many factors for that good wage to be paid.



There is a reason, why we are proffesionals, there is a reason why we don't get killed every day... The reason is we KNOW what we are dealing with here...
So EU Troika and employers WHO think selfservicing and casual untrained Labour is the way forward, forget it.
WE WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO KILL LABOUR, AND WE WILL NOT LET YOU KILL OUR JOBS, NEVER SURRENDER ! 





12 out of 15 of major ocean carriers see good results in third quarter


ROBUST peak season demand on key east-west and intra-Asia trades that kept vessel utilisation levels high and helped container shipping lines hold on to part of the freight rate hikes introduced in the third quarter resulted in a 3.3 per cent improvement in the carriers' average Q3 operating margins.

ROBUST peak season demand on key east-west and intra-Asia trades that kept vessel utilisation levels high and helped container shipping lines hold on to part of the freight rate hikes introduced in the third quarter resulted in a 3.3 per cent improvement in the carriers' average Q3 operating margins.

Based on the third quarter results of the 15 leading ocean liners, operating margins were also boosted by an average six per cent year-on-year decline in bunker costs in the third quarter. 

Cost cutting has also borne fruit, as several shipping lines cited improved network and vessel efficiencies that have helped to lower their respective unit operating costs.

Despite these positive trends, three out of the 15 carriers surveyed by Alphaliner reported negative operating results for the third quarter. 

Negative margins were reported by Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), CSAV and MOL.

Several carriers were able to reverse their operating losses in the third quarter, including Yang Ming, Hanjin Shipping, CSCL and Zim, which all reported positive operating results for their latest financial quarter.

Although Israeli shipping line Zim posted a net loss of US$65 million, as it incurred a one-time net restructuring charge of $45 million, the shipping line managed to record a positive core operating profit of $14 million, its first positive quarterly result in eight quarters.

CMA CGM's net profit jumped to $201 million in the third quarter, compared to $70 million in 2013 mainly due to lower interest expenses and $65 million of foreign currency exchange gains. 

The improved results come despite a slightly weaker operating performance with core operating profits of $248 million for the third quarter, compared to $271 million in the same quarter last year. 

This is despite the French shipping line's liftings rising 8.3 per year on year to 3.2 million TEU, while average freight rates fell 1.8 per cent over the same period. 

Maersk and Wan Hai Lines once again remained the most profitable carriers, with core operating margins of 10.1 per cent and 9.7 per cent, respectively.

At last, no more recession / harsh economic climate being rammed down the throats of humble Dockers.

Mainlane Container Volumes on the Rise



Mainlane container trade volumes are expected to grow by 8% on the peak leg Far East-Europe route and by 6% on the peak leg Transpacific route in full year 2014, according to London-based shipbroker Clarksons.

Stricken by global financial crisis, the global container volumes plunged in 2009, trying to recover ever since.
The first stronger sign of recovery emerged in the second half of 2013, Clarksons data shows, with volumes on the Far East-Europe peak leg trade rising by 8.0% in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013, with Northern European imports performing particularly well.
Clarksons analysis shows that the Far East-Europe trade is projected to grow by a further 7.2% in 2015, to reach 16.6m TEU.
On the Transpacific peak leg trade, volumes rose by 5.6% in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013, when the trade’s estimated full year growth was 4.2%.
In addition, US imports from Asia have grown alongside an improving US economy, which the IMF expects to grow by 2.2% in full year 2014. The peak leg Transpacific trade is projected to grow at a robust rate of 6.0% in 2015 to total 15.5m TEU.
As explained by Clarksons, the extra demand from the peak legs of the mainlane routes has lifted world container trade to a more robust level of growth, expected to average 6.4% in 2014-15.
“In terms of elevating box volume growth back to healthier levels the mainlane

Friday, 28 November 2014

HMS Quorn comes alongside visiting Ipswich




The ABP Port of Ipswich welcomed HMS Quorn, a Hunt class minesweeper, as she came alongside on the 27th November. The ship and her crew have been granted the freedom of the borough:

Shipping TV

OPDR staff fear for jobs in MacAndrews clash after CMA CGM confirms takeover


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Iberian trades specialist OPDR’s 300 shore staff and 100 seafarers are fearing for their future following CMA CGM’s takeover announcement this morning.
The French carrier already owns MacAndrews – acquired from Andrew Weir Shipping in 2002 – which has a strong service network from North Europe to Spain and Portugal, with  obvious overlaps with 130-year-old Hamburg-based OPDR.
In a statement today CMA CGM Group executive officer, Farid Salem said: “We plan on maintaining and developing the OPDR company, as well as creating new synergies with both MacAndrews and the CMA CGM group.”
Both companies have their roots deeply entrenched in shipping: OPDR, an abbreviation of Oldenburg-Portugiesische- Dampfschiffs-Rhederei, was founded in Germany in 1882, while MacAndrews has Scottish origins and began trading from London and Liverpool in 1770.
In 1996, OPDR’s shares were purchased by German shipowner Bernhard Schulte, in whose Hamburg offices the company has been based for the past year.
The niche carrier operates five owned 700teu containerships and three chartered-in vessels of between 690teu and 1,008teu on a network of liner services between North Europe, Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and North Africa. OPDR also owns and operates two con-ro vessels on services between the Canary Islands and the Spanish mainland.
It has also extended its range to Russia and the Baltic, via co-operations with Finland’s Containerships and feeder operator Teamlines.
MacAndrews, which employs 200 staff, has its headquarters in Liverpool and offices around Europe, including five in Spain. It has extensive services between the UK and Ireland, Spain, Portugal, the Benelux, Germany, Poland, the Baltics and Russia, deploying 12 or more vessels of around 700teu.
CMA CGM founder Jacques Saade has known and worked with Bernhard Schulte Group for a number of years and it was appropriate that the announcement by CMA CGM followed his visit to Hamburg yesterday – but rumours that the shipowner wanted to divest its interest in OPDR have been swirling around the city for some weeks.
OPDR expects to transport over 240,000teu this year, while MacAndrews is forecasting more than 290,000teu, some of which is in direct competition, thus the savings from synergies could be significant, particularly where there are overlaps in services.
However, although CMA CGM has stated that the separate brands will be maintained it is likely that given time one will be absorbed into the other. This has been the pattern for CMA CGM elsewhere, for instance in West Africa, with OT Africa Line, acquired from Bolloré in 2006 being assimilated under the Delmas brand in 2011.


Meanwhile agents, service operators and ports will all come under the microscope of OPDR’s new owners. Indeed, in the UK, OPDR last year moved its 200-calls-a-year service to Tilbury from Felixstowe, while in a similar time frame MacAndrews transferred its operation from Tilbury to Thamesport.


A source close to the operation told The Loadstar this morning it was “business as usual” but that radical changes were a “no-brainer”.



CMA-CGM takes over OPDR feeder line; 27 November 2014


Shipping TV

BEST Readies for Mega Ships


Hutchison Port Holdings Limited (HPH) has through its subsidiary Barcelona Europe South Terminal (BEST), located at the Port of Barcelona, received three new Quay Cranes (QCs), as part of the next phase of expansion to enhance the terminal’s ability to handle mega-vessels.

BEST currently has 11 QCs in operation, all of them capable of handling mega-vessels.


Clemence Cheng, HPH Managing Director – Central Europe, said: “The arrival of these new quay cranes further enhances the capability of BEST, which through using state-of-the-art systems and equipment has already been delivering an average quay side productivity of 40 moves per hour per crane to its customers. The arrival is timely as the cranes will be able to handle the anticipated increase in volume at BEST.”
Upon completion of the expansion work in the first quarter of 2015, BEST will increase its handling capacity by 50 per cent. Additionally, the terminal will have 27 automated container storage blocks, a contiguous 1,500 metre berth, and a draft of 16 to 16.5 metres.
BEST will also offer direct hinterland connections from its rail terminal and will accommodate new multimodal maritime services.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Gallery: Five million cigarettes seized at Port of Felixstowe


A bid to smuggle more than five million cigarettes into the UK was foiled at the Port of Felixstowe, it has emerged.

A total of 5.1m cigarettes had been shipped to the UK from the Netherlands inside a trailer in which the contents were listed as “stage and stand equipment”, a Border Force spokesman said.
Charlotte Mann, Border Force’s assistant director at Felixstowe, said: “Beyond mislabelling the contents of the trailer the criminals responsible had made little attempt to conceal the cigarettes.


“The trailer had been loaded with 22 pallets wrapped in blue shrink wrap, with cartons of cigarettes inside the shrink wrap.
“This was a flagrant smuggling attempt and by stopping the shipment we have starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality.
“I would urge anyone tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco to think again. The black market cheats honest traders and it is effectively stealing from the public purse.”
The seizure was made on Monday last week.
Had the smuggling attempt proved successful, it could have cost the Treasury around £1.6m in unpaid duty.

The Art of Stevedore


                      

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

New Ebola Safety Video For Mariners


KVH Industries, Inc. is offering Videotel’s new video about Ebola safety free to all mariners worldwide in an effort to increase awareness of the vitally important prevention measures that can keep seafarers safe. Ebola, a severe and often fatal illness for which there is no vaccine or cure, has been ravaging parts of West Africa since March in the largest outbreak ever known. The World Health Organization has declared the current outbreak a public health emergency, and it is critically important that anyone working in the global maritime industry understand the steps they can take to prevent the further spread of the disease.
KVH has created a website for all mariners to download the free video and an accompanying workbook. In addition, KVH delivered the entire video program today to its IP-MobileCast customers on vessels across the globe, who will automatically receive the video for immediate viewing onboard. “This is a perfect example of why it is sometimes necessary to send out urgent training updates without delay and not wait for the annual update process,” says Nigel Cleave,Videotel chief executive officer.
“The Ebola epidemic is a crisis of worldwide proportions and one where commercial ships and seafarers are at risk given the global nature of their jobs,” says Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH chief executive officer. “Distributing the free video by digital means enables us to get the information to all mariners quickly, especially seafarers who may be in or near a port in the affected region, where it is unsafe to go ashore.”
ebola
“Ebola – Staying Safe” is a 15-minute training program produced by maritime e-Learning leader Videotel, a KVH company, in association with Steamship Mutual P&I Club and a panel of medical and subject matter experts. The video, which includes footage from West Africa and was produced in the last eight weeks to ensure the most up-to-date information, explains what Ebola is, what its symptoms are, and how the virus spreads. It outlines the ways in which crew members can protect themselves, and also what steps masters, ship owners, and ship managers can take to keep crew members safe from harm.
“The Ebola training film covers matters of life and death, much like many of our other programs in our 900-course training library,” says Videotel’s Nigel Cleave. “It has to be accurate, engaging, and well designed from a didactic point of view so that mariners of all cultures and backgrounds understand it. Our ship owner and ship manager clients are facing Ebola-related decisions every day as their ships approach and leave affected ports and at Videotel our first instinct is to support them.”KVH’s initiative to distribute the video to seafarers around the globe is company-wide: Videotel is providing the video free as part of the regular updates for its training program subscribers on more than 11,000 vessels; KVH Media Group, a leading provider of commercially licensed news, music, TV, and movie entertainment content for the maritime industry, is directing its customers to the download site; and Crewtoo, KVH’s online seafarer network, is informing its 100,000+ seafarer members via social media.
KVH is being aided in its video distribution efforts by seafarer agencies, including the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), which is promoting the video to some 450 seafarer centers around the world.
KVH provides maritime broadband connectivity to vessels worldwide through its TracPhone V-IP series satellite communications antenna systems and mini-VSAT Broadband service. Earlier this year, KVH launched the IP-MobileCast content delivery service, which utilizes multicasting technology to affordably deliver news, entertainment, and operations content to vessels at sea.
Get the Free training package from here.


Ebola Turns Up the Heat on West Africa Trade


Ebola Turns Up the Pressure on West Africa Trade

West Africa trade continues to acutely feel the pressure of the Ebola outbreak with export trade estimated to be down by as much as 30% since the start of the outbreak, UK’s shipping consultant Drewry said in its weekly container insight.

Capacity dipped 4.9% dip to 207,000 teu in October, albeit this is still up 31,000 teu since the start of the year. Meanwhile, utilisation on the Asia-West Africa fronthaul leg in September dropped 3 percent points month-on-month dragging freight rates down with it.
The estimated average all-in rate charged by forwarders for spot cargo from Asia to West Africa (Lagos) decreased 2% from USD 3,596/40ft in September to USD 3,541/40ft in October.
“While the Ebola outbreak is having an impact on current trade, carriers remain committed to long term development in West Africa, placing their faith in containment of the disease followed by a rapid re-establishment of double digit growth in traffic,” Drewry said.
The economic impact of this decline is anticipated to be significant, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reducing its growth projections for the region from 5.5% to 5%.
The World Bank also voiced its concerns and has similarly revised its growth estimates for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The decline puts the cost of the outbreak to the West African economy at USD 32 billion in 2015, if the disease is not successfully contained. Already, estimates show that the Liberian economy has declined by USD 113 million as a result of the outbreak; Sierra Leone by USD 95m; and Guinea by USD 120m.
Container traffic volumes illustrate the concerns with fronthaul volumes down 4,000 teu in September which, while up 5.4% year-on-year, fall short of the trade’s expected growth potential.
Southbound traffic continues to show an upward trend and year-on-year percentage changes that remain in excess of 5% despite the current crisis and this trend is what  keeps carriers resolutely committed to the region, Drewry explains.
Drewry cited MSC’s move to a hub and spoke set up in West Africa as proof of the longer term view carriers are taking of the Asia-West Africa trade.
“Just six months after its launch, MSC is revising its Africa Express service on the back of the planned development of a 2 million teu capacity terminal in Togo’s Lomé Container Terminal, being developed by subsidiary Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) and China Merchant Holdings International. 
Commissioned in October, the terminal is expected to be fully completed by 2017. MSC is dropping its current West Africa calls in favour of one call at Lomé and utilising ten feeders to connect to Abidjan, Cotonou, Douala, Freetown, Lagos (TinCan), Libreville, Monrovia, Takoradi and Tema,” Drewry said.
In making the move, MSC will move up from the 4,100 teu ships currently used on the service to ten 6,000 teu ships from mid-November. The removal of the other West Africa ports will allow MSC to reduce the rotation from 11 to 10 weeks.
Maersk and CMA CGM still dominate the Asia-West Africa trade – accounting for over half of the available capacity – but MSC’s Lomé ambitions could challenge that position somewhat by 2017.
Lomé is proving a popular choice for a West African hub; Bolloré‐operated Togo Terminal’s 300,000 teu capacity is being expanded to 1.2m teu. Elsewhere, planned investments in existing ports in Abidjan, Tema and Pointe Noire and in the greenfield ports of CMA CGM’s Lekki and APM Terminal’s Badagry in Nigeria will further boost handling capabilities in West Africa.
Within 24 months ships of up to 9,000 teu could be a reality in this trade, Drewry estimates, adding that this move could be likened to the rapid growth in containership sizes serving the East Coast of South America since the start of the decade.
“Already a fifth of all containerships serving the Asia-West Africa trade are gearless, highlighting the evolution in shore-side handling facilities,” the weekly insight concludes.
Source: Drewry; Image: WHO


Container Lashing & Securing:


Improving Operational Safety & Productivity
Meeting the Big Ship Challenge
Reducing Container Losses

A practical one-day seminar from ICHCA International

Wednesday 10 December 2014 | ECT Delta Terminal, Rotterdam




Taking place in Rotterdam on 10 December, this practical one-day seminar will explore what the industry can do to reduce the risks and inefficiencies associated with container lashing and securing today both at sea and at the ship-to-shore interface.

Among other topics, the seminar will provide a chance to discuss forthcoming amendments to IMO’s Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing, which from 1 January 2015 lays down new requirements for container access and lashing operations, affecting both new and existing vessels.


The seminar will also explore the additional measures that IMO and the industry should take to help reduce the loss of containers overboard as recommended in the Marin Report “Lashing at sea”.

Kindly hosted by Europe Container Terminals at its ECT Delta facility in Rotterdam - the first automated container terminal in the world and one of the largest in Europe - together with lashing and securing provider Matrans Marine Services, the seminar will include a chance to visit a vessel for a live study tour.



As the leading NGO association representing the interests of the global cargo handling industry, ICHCA International is pleased to present this seminar, which brings all the interested industry parties together to share the latest information and discuss the next steps for improving safety and productivity in vessel and port operations.

We hope that you will be able to join us this December for a valuable day of education, debate, brainstorming and networking with our expert panel of speakers and fellow industry professionals.

Kind regards,

ICHCA International

ICHCA Container Lashing & Securing Seminar
10 December 2014, ECT Delta Terminal, Rotterdam


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Low-sulphur laws could force a redesign of Asia-Europe container supply chains


SECA_NORD&OSTSEE
The creation of the sulphur emission control areas (Secas) at the beginning of next year could lead to a fundamental redesign of Asia-Europe container supply chains, delegates at this week’s Intermodal show in Rotterdam heard.
Mike Garratt, managing director of MDS Transmodal, said the new regulations – which will see ships forced to burn fuel with a 0.1% or less sulphur content when steaming in the Channel and North and Baltic seas, thus having to effectively switch from the normal heavy fuel oil (HFO) to distillate marine gas oil (MGO) – are likely to lead to significantly higher shipping costs as carriers introduction Seca surcharges.
Several shipping lines have already announced such surcharges to be implemented on 1 January, with sliding scales depending on how far into a Seca the shipper’s cargo is moving. Maersk has set it at $50-150 per teu, MSC at $15-130 per teu, CMA CGM at $40-230 and north European feeder and shortsea operator Unifeeder, which almost exclusively operates within the Secas, at $88 per container.
However, modelling undertaken by Mr Garratts’s company has questioned those levels.
Assuming that fuel prices remain at today’s levels, and that MGO continues to be 50% more expensive than HFO, Mr Garratt has calculated that the bunker cost per teu on a transatlantic service where some 31% of the distance would be within a Seca – the US is also imposing the same regulation on its coastlines – would increase from $208 to $240; on a transpacific service with 7% of the distance within the Seca, it would increase from $448 to $462; and on an Asia-Europe service with 7% within a Seca, it would rise from $452 to $468.
“The service that is going to see the greatest increase in costs due to the new regulations is a transatlantic operation from Finland to the US,” he said.


But he also questioned whether as a result of the higher costs, there would be a shift in cargo away from North Europe. “The UK for example, has some major ports – Liverpool and Bristol – which are outside the Seca, and there’s no reason why it couldn’t be served through them. In fact, while the leading four European ports are all inside the Seca, 53% of the deepsea box traffic generated in Europe destined or from countries within the Secas, a proportion that rises to 70% when you take into account non-EU countries.
“It may be that the lines increasingly realise that it makes sense to serve Europe through Mediterranean ports – indeed, shipping lines are already increasing their presence there, with the 2M alliance planning 10 Asia-Med services compared with 12 Asia-North Europe services,” he said.


He suggested that French ports such as Marseilles and Nantes could see an increase in volumes if the intermodal services out of them provided strong enough links to the hinterland, while a call at a north-west port outside the Seca could result in a possible $64 saving per loaded container.
“The actual cost increase will depend on the distances, but it is another aspect to add to the tension between lines and their customers – generally shippers are poorly informed about true shipping costs,” he said, adding that this discouraged long-term relationships between lines and their customers.
He also suggested the relationship between lines and ports would change.
“In this sort of environment, port terminals will rely more and more on the quality of their inland links, and intermodal operators may ally themselves much more closely with ports rather than lines – supporting the offer a port can make.
“The extension to this is that the integration of inland terminals is likely to be a consequence of the move to larger ships and the industrial concentration taking place in liner shipping,” he said.





BRITISH Shipping Minister John Hayes said he will finds ways to use taxpayers' money to help pay for a government mandate for ships to use costly low-sulphur fuel from January.

BRITISH Shipping Minister John Hayes said he will finds ways to use taxpayers' money to help pay for a government mandate for ships to use costly low-sulphur fuel from January.

Speaking at the annual reception hosted by the UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), Mr Hayes said he would explore options for subsidies for those operating in the emissions control areas in the English channel, the North and Baltic seas.

“We have to shout louder. I am very keen to do that,?said Mr Hayes, who took over as minister of state for shipping in a cabinet reshuffle last July.

At the time the Conservative MP pledged to work with the industry to ensure that Brussels did not impose regulations on ports that damaged business. He also pledged to fight Brussels over any threat to the competitiveness of UK ports.
UKMPG, which represents 42 ports including Southampton, Felixstowe, Liverpool, London Gateway and Bristol, hopes to minimise government interference.

UKMPG chief executive Simon Bird said legislation from Brussels inhibits growth and employment.

“Despite the success of the sector and the massive contribution it makes to jobs, the economy and taxation, it is currently under siege from the threat of Brussels red tape,?said Mr Bird. 





BIMCO calls for 'robust' of low-sulphur fuel rule - let no one escape


SHIPOWNERS' group BIMCO has called for "robust" enforcement of the low-sulphur edict so all shipping suffer equally from forced use of the costly fuel in the English Channel, the North an Baltic seas from January 1.



SHIPOWNERS' group BIMCO has called for "robust" enforcement of the low-sulphur edict so all shipping suffer equally from forced use of the costly fuel in the English Channel, the North an Baltic seas from January 1.

BIMCO president John Denholm described this position as crucial to maintaining a level playing field for shipping companies operating in emission control areas (ECAs), ensuring that compliant companies are not disadvantaged.

"The maritime industry will shortly experience an unprecedented rise in operating costs as countries bordering ECAs implement very low limits for sulphur content in the fuel oils used by ships," said Mr Denholm.

BIMCO has published a position paper on this issue, which also suggests that the consequences of allowing some to operate in non-compliance due to lack of enforcement should be an essential element of the forthcoming debate and decision in IMO on fuel availability.


Unions warn EC over European port plans


Key ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) member union decision makers have issued a strong warning to the European Commission (EC) today over the future of the continent’s ports. 


Docker and seafarer trade union leaders meeting at the ITF’s fair practices committee steering group last week called for a drastic re-examination of the EC’s handling of the vital national and international resources. 

Terje Samuelsen, Europe chair of the ITF dockers’ section and chair of the European Transport Workers’ Federation dockers’ section, explained: “The EC’s latest response to the early and justified demise of their ‘ports packages’ seems to be to actively foment infringement procedures against ports where social dialogue between employers and unions is working well. We don’t know whether it’s sour grapes or a desire to smuggle in a new port package under another name, but it’s putting the whole model of successful and productive dialogue at risk.” 

He promised: “Dockers across Europe will continue to ram home the point to the EC that ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’.” 


Last week’s resolution of the ITF fair practices committee steering group, which brings together dockers and seafarers’ unions from across the world, notes “the persistent attempts to erode the job security and working conditions of dockworkers in Europe” and “the infringement procedures that have been, or are about to be, initiated against a number of European governments, including in Spain and Belgium, to challenge the existing rights of dockworkers”. 

The resolution “regrets that over the past few years, a climate fuelling complaints against port labour organisation schemes has been created in Europe; condemns the direct and indirect attacks on the right to, and scope of, collective bargaining in the sector; expresses its grave concern over the complete lack of transparency and accountability of the process by which such infringement procedures can be initiated, whereby anonymous complaints can be made via a website”; and challenges “misinformation about well-organised ports in Europe, which contrary to allegations by some parties, are cost effective, efficient and have a high rate of productivity, making sizeable contributions to the economy both at the national and European levels”. 


The resolution pledges its continued support for European dockworker unions “who are fighting for their members’ livelihoods and rights”, and calls on the European Commission, European governments and employers “to act transparently and in good faith, and to desist from actions that would undermine workers and their unions who are key social partners as well as the social dialogue in place at national and European level”. 

It also calls on the European Commission, European governments and employers “to instead focus on addressing the combined impacts of insufficient cargo growth, automation and overcapacity in European ports, and to work with unions to minimise the social consequences of this”. 


Dock Unions Concerned with EU Attitude to the Future of Freight Handling in the Ports  

Language Harks Back to Another Era

Shipping News FeatureEUROPE – In language reminiscent of the UK dock disputes of the 1960’s a meeting of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has issued what it describes as ‘a strong warning’ to the European Commission (EC) over the future of the continent’s ports. The union organisation is concerned that what it terms ‘fair practices’ will be abandoned by the authorities who they feel have a different agenda a regards the handling of freight.
We have written before how the British port scene was revolutionised with the abandonment of theDock Labour Scheme which enabled containerisation to be fully introduced and many ports now have a very different look and feel to their predecessors. The ITF representatives feel threatened by changes and it is somewhat ironic that at a meeting in Hull this month delegates pondered ‘how unions can challenge the harmful impact of globalisation’, the very thing which fuels port activity.
The European Union would argue forcefully that it has endeavoured to take a fair and responsible view of the situation, valuing the worth of the million and a half or so people employed in the twenty two maritime EU Member States. It has listed 329 key ports to be included in the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), a scheme in which it will invest €26 billion between now and 2020. In July 2013 it published a report prepared by PWC which is an impact assessment of the measures to possibly be taken to improve port efficiency yet crucially seemed to avoid the potential social impact.
It seems the message put over by Siim Kallas, outgoing Vice President of the EC was what upset the ITF when he released the ‘Ports - 2030 Gateways’ brochure, his vision for the future in which the principal objective was to streamline all the ports, making them equally efficient and improving infrastructure to enable more short sea traffic to take freight off the roads. He said:
“Our challenge is to promote best practices and a more entrepreneurial spirit in all of Europe’s ports. An open business model that is based on fair competition, legal certainty and respect of the Single Market principles, is the pre-requisite for attracting private investment and creating job opportunities in the sector.”
This latest union meeting heard the ITF’s fair practices committee steering group calling for a drastic re-examination of the EC’s handling of port policy and making a list of resolutions. Terje Samuelsen, Europe chair of the ITF dockers’ section and chair of the European Transport Workers’ Federation dockers’ section explained the unions’ position, saying:
“The EC’s latest response to the early and justified demise of their ports packages seems to be to actively foment infringement procedures against ports where social dialogue between employers and unions is working well. We don’t know whether it’s sour grapes or a desire to smuggle in a new port package under another name, but it’s putting the whole model of successful and productive dialogue at risk. Dockers across Europe will continue to ram home the point to the EC that ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’.”
Resolutions formulated at the meeting on November 20-21 included regrets and condemnation that over the past few years a climate which fuels complaints against port labour organisation schemes has been created in Europe, one which attacks collective bargaining. The group also complains that those criticising such union activities can do so anonymously via the internet, something it would be fair to say they will have to learn to live with, and respond to, given the current social media situation.
The group also challenges what it calls ‘misinformation about well-organised ports in Europe, which contrary to allegations by some parties, are cost effective, efficient and have a high rate of productivity, making sizeable contributions to the economy both at the national and European levels’. It then calls on the European Commission, European governments and employers to act transparently and in good faith, not undermine workers and unions and focus on addressing the combined impacts of insufficient cargo growth, automation and overcapacity in European ports, and to work with unions to minimise the social consequences of this.
These arguments are of course somewhat counterintuitive, increasing the efficiency of a port and growing cargo throughput usually requires more automation and less labour and it is hard to see how to soften this blow to the traditional role which the unions play. The problems the unions face are primarily the major changes in the type and quantity of work now undertaken at a typical port.
In the modern scenario workers have to be adaptable and also prepared to undergo training in a range of skills and essentials for jobs which either simply never existed formerly or have been revolutionised by modern practices. Often the attitude of management is to give the option of joining a union but one that is frequently then rejected by staff who often have more the role of a technician than a traditional stevedore or wharfinger.
The situation is brought to a head as the union group notes the infringement procedures that have been, or are about to be, initiated against a number of European governments, including in Spain and Belgium, to challenge the existing rights of dockworkers. Meanwhile port administrators in some countries have to fight over a level of work which the newer more efficient practices and investment in facilities mean can be comfortably handled by many, making efficiency and lower costs ever more essential.
The row has conjoined some unlikely allies, Right Wing Conservative MP, JohnRedwood, has opposed what he sees as 'another EU power grab' as the EC intentions appear to be to run the ports along strictly defined lines saying that, whilst EU plans may suit subsidised Mediterranean ports, privately run British and other European ports would be constrained by more regulation, particularly in the matter of rates charged to customers.

UK government pursues EU exemption for British ports

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The UK government is confident of securing an exemption for British ports from elements of the EU’s proposed ports regulation, shipping minister John Hayes told guests at the UK Major Ports Group parliamentary reception.
Referring to the EU’s third attempt to introduce the Port Services Directive, he said: “The UK government will not want to adopt anything that damages the vitality of the [ports] industry. We will work with employers, stakeholders, trade unions to resist this at every turn.”
Mr Hayes said that in four months as minister, he had ‘come to appreciate’ the value of the UK ports sector. “As a government, we have slightly undersold the ports industry,” he said. “We can shout even louder about the significance of this sector, the people it employs and the energy, enthusiasm and enterprise that characterises it.”
He also referred to a ‘disconnect’ in UK transport strategy. “It is really important we see our roads policy closely linked to our ports policy. I am determined to achieve better connectivity around ports,” he said.
Source: Port Strategy