Monday, April 8, 2013
Hong Kong dockworker strike marks 12th day
Photo courtesy AFP
A strike of dockworkers at the port of Hong Kong reached its 12th day Monday morning with no negotiations between longshoremen and employers, according to BBC News.
The strike has slowed down trade at the world's third busiest container port, with reports that ships have been waiting up to 60 hours to berth at the port, the BBC reported.
The 500 workers, most employed by contractors rather than by Hongkong International Terminals directly, have been striking to demand a pay increase of about 25 percent on higher inflation. The workers have refused to open negotiations until representatives from HIT agree to take part in the talks, according to The Standard. The chairman of the Shippers' Council, Willy Lin, said he hoped the dispute could be settled soon.
HIT is expected to meet with a group of striking workers it directly employs on Monday to discuss pay demands. However, the port operator is still refusing to hold talks with workers employed by contractors, RTHK reports.
Longshore workers also requested a meeting with the two larger contractors that hire them, as they see this as a more "meaningful" discussion, said Wong Yu-loy, a representative of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, on Saturday to Bloomberg.
Labour Minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said Monday the government is willing to facilitate talks between striking dockers and contractors, reported The Standard.
The Standard said that several shipping lines have rerouted their ships to avoid Hong Kong. On Friday, a large Japan-based container line told the newspaper the strike had caused transport delays of Hong Kong-transited cargo of more than three days.
About 250 to 300 workers protested on the street Saturday outside the entrance of the port in Hong Kong's Kwai Tsing district, said Wong. Reportedly, labor discontent has been on the rise in Hong Kong, a city that has one of the highest cost-of-living rates in China.
The trade union said it has raised approximately $450,000 for the strike fund, of which half has been released. The union will reportedly give each striking worker $193 on Monday.
For more of the BBC story: bbc.co.uk
For more of the Bloomberg story: businessweek.com
ILA membership to vote on new 6-year contract Tuesday
The membership of the International Longshoremen's Association will vote on the new 6-year contract covering dockworkers at all major ports on the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. Officials reportedly expect the contract to be ratified.
ILA and USMX negotiators, after of many months of contentious discussion, were guided to labor contract consensus on March 13 with the help of a federal mediation team.
If ratified, the contract requires $1 hourly wage increases in 2014, 2016 and 2017. New workers will progress from the $20-an-hour beginning pay rate to the highest level of $32-an-hour in six years instead of nine, according to the ILA.
Container royalties, which was a difficult issue to resolve, guarantees carriers' royalty payments of $211 million per year, adding up to $14 million for administration. The ILA and USMX will divide any royalties above $225 million evenly.
Employers agreed to pay an additional $1 per hour for local pensions and benefits and medical coverage will remain the same.
The contract also stipulates protection for ILA dockworkers replaced by new technology and provides guarantees of ILA jurisdiction over jobs concerning cha
NYK to hike cargo rates South American and Caribbean service
NYK Line will implement a general rate increase effective May 10 on their service from the U.S. Gulf to the East Coast of South America and the Caribbean.
The GRI of $200 per-TEU and $400 per-FEU will apply to all southbound cargo moving through U.S. Gulf Coast ports to East Coast South America and Caribbean ports.
The company says the GRI is necessary to offset increased operational costs, and will apply to all dry and reefer cargo.
Tunnel boring machine makes it to Seattle
An $80 million boring machine to be used for digging the Highway 99 tunnel finally made it into the Port of Seattle on Saturday after waiting offshore since Tuesday.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said Bertha was supposed to dock Wednesday, but the berthing was postponed as arrangements were still being made to unload the 900 tons of machine parts.
The tunnel digger, which will eventually be taken to a pit a quarter of a mile from Elliott Bay for assembly, is the largest of its kind.
For more of the Seattle Times story: blogs.seattletimes.com
Carnival Triumph escapes from mooring in Mobile
The Carnival cruise ship that had a breakdown in the Gulf of Mexico that subjected thousands on board unsanitary conditions broke loose Wednesday from a dock in Alabama, traveled downriver and came to rest after bumping into a cargo ship.
Powerful winds pushed the Carnival Triumph from its mooring in Mobile, Ala., where it was being repaired.
For more of the Huffington Post story: huffingtonpost.com
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
NRF: With Customs furloughs on hold, April retail imports to increase 2.7 percent
April import volumes at major U.S. container ports are forecast to increase 2.7 percent year-over-year, now that Customs has announced efforts to minimize the impact of federal spending cuts on cargo processing, says recent industry report.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials reportedly said that, although sequester-related cargo delays are still possible, the recent passage of the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill by Congress "allows CPB to mitigate to some degree the impacts." Staff furloughs and cuts in overtime that were previously announced have not been canceled but have been put on hold.
The monthly Global Port Tracker report, released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, predicts April volumes to reach 1.35 million TEUs, up 2.7 percent from 2012.
"The impact of sequestration isn't yet fully known, but Customs officials are working hard to manage their resources and keep cargo moving," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Between their efforts to avoid delays and retailers' adjustments to compensate, we're not expecting consumers to see any difference on store shelves at this point. We are working closely with Customs to ensure that that remains the case."
U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.29 million TEUs in February, the latest month with concrete data.
May cargo volume for the covered ports is expected to be 1.42 million TEUs, up 3.2 percent. June is predicted to be up 1.8 percent at 1.42 million TEUs, July up 1.5 percent at 1.45 million TEUs, and August up one quarter of one percent at 1.44 million TEUs.
The first six months of 2013 are expected to total 8.1 million TEU, up 4.7 percent from the first half of 2012. The total for 2012 was 15.9 million TEU, up 3.4 percent from 2011.
Global Port Tracker covers the ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston.
Dockworkers to meet with employers on Day 13 of Hong Kong port strike
Dockworkers at the port of Hong Kong, currently in the 13th day of a strike to demand higher wages, will participate in talks with their employers on Wednesday.
The government reportedly arranged the meetings. Union negotiators will join the talks, said Wong Yu-loy, a representative of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers. Matthew Cheung, Hong Kong secretary for labor and welfare, said Hongkong International Terminals executives will also attend the meetings, according to Radio Television Hong Kong.
Vessels are currently waiting outside the port for two to four days before docking, compared to virtually no wait before the strike, said Paul Tsui, chairman of Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics.
Evergreen Marine Corp Taiwan, Japan's Mitsui OSK, and other shipping lines have rerouted ships or skipped Hong Kong in their rotations.
The dockers, employed by contractors and not directly by HIT, began the strike March 28 because they want a 25 percent raise in wages, which are currently set at about $7 per hour.
Hongkong International Terminals says it is now running at about 80 percent of usual operating levels as an increasing number of workers are coming back to work.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
IARW releases top 25 list of largest public refrigerated warehouses
The International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses released its annual Global Top 25 List, which names the largest capacity public refrigerated warehouses in the world. The IARW also released its North American Top 25 List.
The Global Top 25 currently operates 3.33 billion cubic feet, a 5.71 percent increase from 2012. The North American Top 25 currently operates 2.72 billion cubic feet, a 5.84 percent annual increase.
The largest public refrigerated warehouse concern in the global category is Americold Logistics and China Merchants Americold, which have a capacity of 958,449,139 square feet. They have locations in Argentina, Australia, China, New Zealand and the U.S.
The largest PRW in North America is Americold Logistics in Atlanta, which has a capacity of 873,969,537 square feet. Second and third place facilities are Lineage Lostistics in Colton, Calif., and Millard in Omaha, Nebraska.
The combined space of IARW's total international membership accounts for 4.29 billion cubic feet, is a 6.45 percent increase in membership space since the list was last released in May 2012.
Seattle added to Asia/U.S. Northwest joint service by United Arab Shipping and China Shipping
The United Arab Shipping Company will add the Port of Seattle's Terminal 30 to its AWN1 service in May. The AWN1 string will sail in partnership with China Shipping Container Lines' existing ANW1 service.
The ANW1/AWN1 service will have a port rotation of Nansha/ Hong Kong/ Yantian/ Ningbo/ Shanghai/ Pusan/ Seattle/ Vancouver/ Nansha.
Freighter rescues row boat crew in Atlantic
A Filipino freighter crew on Saturday rescued four men whose rowboat had capsized in the Atlantic 900 nautical miles from Miami.
The men had been making their first-ever attempt to row unassisted from Africa to North America, and had started out 73 days earlier.
The crew of the MV Heijin, a Chinese automobile carrier, brought the four men on board, welcoming them with blankets and a hot meal.
For more of the Globe and Mail story: theglobeandmail.com
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
ILA membership ratifies new six-year master contract for dockworkers at East and Gulf Coast ports
The membership of the International Longshoremen's Association "overwhelmingly" approved a new six-year master contract on Tuesday that will cover approximately 14,500 workers at 14 major ports on the East and Gulf Coasts, according to an ILA statement.
The contract is the result of more than a year of negotiations between officials from ILA and the United States Maritime Alliance, which represented the employers in the contract talks. A federal mediation team finally guided the contentious talks between ILA and USMX leadership to contract consensus on March 13.
"On behalf of ILA members and officers at all ports, we're thrilled this Master Contract was ratified by an overwhelming margin," said ILA President Harold J. Daggett, who served as ILA chief negotiator. "We all worked very hard, achieved landmark improvements and protected our members and our union for many years."
"Obviously the parties worked long and hard," said David Adam, the current USMX chairman and CEO replacing James Capo, who recently retired after negotiating the agreement. "Certainly both sides were doing what they could for their members. We were at the brink a few times, but I think the parties did the responsible thing." Adam also credited federal mediator George Cohen and his team for helping to arrive at an agreement.
A few ILA locals were still reporting results late Tuesday night, but ratification was already assured since the majority of locals had submitted vote results to ILA headquarters.
ILA members ratified almost all local agreements on the East and Gulf Coasts, except at the ports of Baltimore, Philadelphia and Hampton Roads. Those port areas were permitted to continue negotiating their local agreements, according to the ILA statement, and are expected to complete them early next week.
One key local agreement concerning work provisions at the Ports of New York and New Jersey negotiated between ILA locals and the New York Shipping Association, was ratified by a "better than three to one margin," the ILA reported.
The original contract deadline of September 30, 2012 was extended many times to keep the longshoremen employed and cargo moving at U.S. ports as the talks continued.
The 43 port employers represented by the USMX will hold their own ratification vote April 17.
"The ILA and United States Maritime Alliance should be commended for reaching today's pinnacle vote, and doing so without engaging in any disruption, stoppage, lockout or strike," said the National Retail Foundation today in a statement. "Today's vote will bring much-needed certainty and efficiency to East and Gulf Coast port operations and secure the United States' position in the global supply chain."
Hong Kong dockworkers begin talks with management
Striking dockers at the Hong Kong Terminals are meeting with employer contractors today to try to settle the two-week labor strike over wages and work provisions.
The hundreds of workers camped outside HIT are asking for an eight-hour shift, a raise of $12.88 per shift, and meal and rest breaks.
HIT, which had said it was losing $309,000 each day of the strike, recently said it has gotten back to moving 80 percent of its normal cargo volume at the world's third busiest port, now that more dockers are returning to work.
But strike organizers Chan Chiu-wai said he disagreed with HIT's claim, saying its financial losses remained large since only about 20 out of 500 dockers had returned to work, reported the South China Morning Post.
The SCMP said the Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics estimated that 120,000 containers were stuck at the port, after speaking to shipping firms. Industry insiders have reportedly said the volume of cargo handled by HIT has halved since the strike began, as vessels were going to other ports.
HIT is a part of Hutchison Whampoa, which is owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing. Although the dockworkers are actually employed by subcontractors, Asia's richest man has also been named in the dispute, and dockworkers insisted HIT participate in the negotiations. HIT said it would only sit in on the meetings, according to Radio Television Hong Kong.
Both the union leadership and the government were less-than-optimistic about reaching a resolution at Wednesday's talks.
"We are now happy for the dialogue with employers and the Labor Department, but, of course, we don't have a 100 percent promise that today we can finish all the dialogue, so that we…work hard today, and going forward…to discuss tomorrow and other days," Stanley Ho of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers said to RTHK.
"I appeal to all parties concerned to really seize this opportunity, make the best use of this opportunity to talk sincerely and frankly, iron out the differences, narrow the differences, and display a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding with a view to reaching a satisfactory solution in the end," said Matthew Cheung, the Secretary for Labor and Welfare.
For more of the Forbes story: forbes.com
For more of the South China Morning Post story: scmp.com
Port of Seattle launches green truck tag program
Starting in April, Port of Seattle container terminals implemented a radio frequency identification tag program as a part of the port's Clean Truck Initiative, according to a port statement.
The port reported that the program launch involved an average of over 2,000 truck gate moves a day. Less than two percent of all port-registered trucks reported problems, which in most cases were resolved within 15 minutes.
China's exports less than predicted as questions about faulty data rise
China's exports increased less than expected for the first time in four months, which raised questions about the global trade outlook as the Chinese government investigates the possibility of artificially inflated data.
Customs reported exports increased 10 percent in March year-over-year, and imports rose by 14.1 percent, leaving an unexplained trade deficit of $880 million.
Researcher HIS Inc. said that an "astounding" 92.9 percent hike in exports to Hong Kong, the most in 18 years, raises questions on data quality. China's Customs agency said the Hong Kong data gains stem from different statistical methods.
"This 10 percent export growth is more real as it's in line with other data," including power consumption, industrial production and transportation, said Lu Ting, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America in Hong Kong, in a note to Bloomberg today. January and February's unusually strong gains were probably distorted by companies' inflated reports, Lu said.
For more of the Bloomberg story: businessweek.com
Captain abandons legally challenged Korean cargo vessel as it springs a leak
The captain of the Korean cargo ship MV OSM Arena, involved in a web of legal cases and anchored off the city, told the Madras High Court that he abandoned the ship today, worrying it might sink because water had breached the engine room.
The ship has been anchored off the port of Chennai since February 2010 and was arrested in September last year, since it faced cases filed in the Madras and Calcutta high courts by different parties to recover their fees.
The ship, abandoned by its owner a long time ago leaving the crew in the lurch, had drifted during the December 2011 Thane cyclone and was later retrieved by the Chennai Port Trust, which has recently put up the ship for auction to recover its costs.
For more of the Business Standard story: business-standard.com
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Port of Oakland short on its funding for Army base overhaul
As the City of Oakland plans to start the overhaul of a 400-acre former army base this year, lack of money threatens the completion of the project because the Port of Oakland is $1.3 billion in debt. This funding deficit will likely delay the second phase of the project, and the potential of thousands of new jobs in West Oakland.
The port's debt is primarily from past construction projects, leaving it without the $600 million needed to fund its' half of the base renovation. Besides sitting on $1.3 billion in outstanding debt, according to Port of Oakland CFO Sara Lee, the port has $900 million in unfunded capital needs.
During a presentation of the port's finances at a recent meeting, Port of Oakland CFO Sara Lee, apologized to the Port Commission
"The economic and competitive climate that we work in," Lee said, "coupled with the $1.3 billion in outstanding debt, continues to put tremendous pressure on port revenue."
The port's fiscal problems might hurt Oakland's ability to remain competitive with port rivals for container business. For example, the Port of Los Angeles has an annual capital improvement program of $400 million, and the Port of Long Beach has $700 million. The Port of Oakland, has only $31 million a year for its capital needs through 2017.
Professor Alan Erera of Georgia Institute of Technology, an expert in transportation and logistics systems, said the planned expansion of the Port of Oakland is key for its continued competitiveness. "It's important for Oakland to begin to upgrade its facilities now if it wants to continue to be a major player," he said.
Phase One of the army base renovation is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, and is being developed by the city and the port together, financed by a mix of public and private money. The cost is just over $500 million dollars, with $260 million coming from city, port, private, and federal funds, and $242 million from state matching grants.
Due to the port's shortfall, things look dicey for the finance of Phase Two, which includes a new intermodal rail terminal, a bulk marine terminal, thirty acres of truck parking and service areas, two million square feet of warehousing space, and a new recycling center. Oakland could see about 5,000 jobs created from the full redevelopment of the Army Base, according to a 2012 study.
Currently, the port has no timeline for when it will be able to begin Phase Two.
"If we can get everything in place within the next twelve months that'd be great, but at this point that looks unlikely, so we're probably looking at a longer time horizon," said Port of Oakland Maritime Projects Director Mark Erickson.
For more of the East Bay Express story: eastbayexpress.com
In the eighth paragraph above, details regarding the first phase of the Oakland Army Base development project are mistakenly attributed to its second phase. To clarify, Phase I of the project, currently in process, includes infrastructure and rail construction, a bulk marine terminal, truck parking and service areas, one million square feet of new warehouses, and a new recycling center.
WTO lowers global trade growth forecast to 3.3 percent
The World Trade Organization reduced its global trade growth forecast for 2013 to 3.3 percent from the 4.5 percent it predicted in September on lowered European demand, according to a recent statement.
Global trade increased by 2 percent in 2012, compared with 5.2 percent growth in 2011, during slow economic growth in developed countries and ongoing uncertainty over the future of the euro, the WTO said.
"The events of 2012 should serve as a reminder that the structural flaws in economies that were revealed by the economic crisis have not been fully addressed, despite important progress in some areas," said Director General Pascal Lamy in the statement. "Repairing these fissures needs to be the priority for 2013."
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
No deal yet for Hong Kong dockers as cargo continues to back up
Yesterday's negotiations between Hong Kong dockworkers and port operators were unsuccessful in terms of agreeing to higher wages and better working conditions for workers. If the two-week strike continues, it may threaten the status of the globe's third busiest container port.
"We raised some treatment issues, including meals, overtime and leave but hadn't got to the issue of salaries before they said they needed to go for lunch," said Wong Shiu-cheung, representative of the Union of Hong Kong Dockers, referring to talks with subcontractors of the port operator and labor department officials.
"We told them...we would always be willing to talk to them, whenever they want, even at midnight," Wong added. "But there's no response yet as to when the next meeting will be."
Approximately 120,000 TEUs have stacked up during the 14-day strike, according to the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics. Local media reported late on Wednesday that the talks would continue Thursday.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Savannah dredging project gets $1M in president's budget
President Obama's budget proposal includes only $1.28 million for dredging the Savannah River, a $652 million project.
"I am obviously disappointed," said Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. "We wanted significant funds. That certainly would be in the multiples of tens of millions of dollars. That, to me, is progress and would've significantly advanced a critical infrastructure project for this nation's recovery. Unfortunately, it didn't happen."
However, rating a line item in the President's budget is a crucial get in the federal funding process. The Senate is now considering a bill for Congress to approve the project at its current price, which will authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to start deepening the river.
For more of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story: ajc.com
Diana Shipping to stand trial for dumping bilge waste
Diana Shipping Services and engineers Ioannis Prokakis and Antonios Boumpoutelos will stand trial in July on federal pollution charges that involve the discharge of bilge waste and sludge from the Panamanian cargo vessel Thetis directly into the ocean.
Some of the cargo vessel's discharges bypassed required pollution prevention equipment, according to the indictment.
The workers and the company pleaded not guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. The trial is set for July 23.
For more of the Washington Post story: washingtonpost.com