Monday, April 29, 2013
Locked-out ILWU claims Mitsui destroys local jobs while profiteering
Approximately 200 Washington and Oregon dockworkers, locked out of their jobs at Mitsui's United Grain terminal at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., since February 27, are accusing Mitsui of profiting from Northwest taxpayer infrastructure investments while destroying local jobs, according to an ILWU statement.
Union members have been picketing outside of Mitsui-United Grain Vancouver headquarters daily, with support from longshoremen in Seattle, who hand out fliers in the Puget Sound region, the statement said.
The most recent flier handed out by longshoremen cites the "$275 million West Vancouver Freight Access rail project (that) allows Japan's Mitsui to export grain shipments for record profits" and the "$178 million Columbia River channel deepening project (that) moves Mitsui's massive grain ships in and out of United Grain."
Mitsui has said the lockout was triggered by sabotage at the United Grain terminal committed by an ILWU official on Dec. 22. The company accused Local 4 union official and negotiator Todd Walker of vandalism costing the company more than $91,000, according to a confidential report obtained by The Oregonian in early March. Walker has not been charged with any crimes.
In response, the union local filed an unfair labor practice claim against United Grain with the National Labor Relations Board, contending that the lockout was an extreme, illegal response.
All of the employers except TEMCO imposed a concessionary agreement in December that had been rejected by 94 percent in a union membership vote. TEMCO continued negotiations with the ILWU and signed a contract that was ratified in February
FDRA: Reintroduced House bill would end duties on one-third of footwear
The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America announced the reintroduction of the Affordable Footwear Act, H.R.1708, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would end duties on one third of all footwear imports.
Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) originally sponsored the bill.
Twenty-eight House members have expressed support of the AFA, which would eliminate approximately $800 million in duties on lower-priced children's footwear, outdoor shoes and some athletic shoes, the statement said. The bill has bipartisan support, including members of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees footwear issues, the FDRA reported.
Approximately $2.3 billion in duties were paid on footwear in 2012, according to the FDRA. The Affordable Footwear Act would eliminate duties on shoes with the highest duty rates. If successful, this bill will generate additional savings for consumers, drive more shoe sales and provide additional opportunities for job growth in the U.S. footwear industry, the statement said.
Hong Kong government hosts talks between striking dockers and employers
The government of Hong Kong invited the Union of Hong Kong Dockers to talks scheduled for April 30, after the striking dockworkers scaled back their demands for a 23 percent wage hike.
Contractors of HongKong International Terminals will also attend the talks, intended to resolve the four-week strike that resulted after workers rejected a 7 percent raise.
Delays faced by ships have been shortened after HIT hired temporary workers, according to Canning Fok, chairman of Hutchison Port Holdings Trust. The strike has caused at least 100 ships to circumvent Hong Kong in favor of nearby ports.
After hiring the temporary workers, waiting time for ships went down to an average of 20-to-25 hours last week, compared with 60 hours at the beginning of the strike.
About 450 dockers, mostly crane operators and stevedores, walked off the job on March 28, demanding higher wages and better working conditions.
For more of the Bloomberg story: businessweek.com
Matson lowers Hawaii fuel surcharge
Matson, which is the biggest shipping company carrying cargo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, is lowering its fuel surcharge by 3.5 percent.
Matson Navigation said effective Sunday the surcharge would drop from 40 percent to 36.5 percent for Hawaii service, representing for most customers a reduction in shipping costs of $80 to $140 per container.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
Owners of collapsed Bangladesh factory arrested, death toll at 352
Two owners of the clothes factories housed in a building that collapsed on Wednesday in Dhaka, Bangladesh have been arrested. The death toll has risen to 352 in the ruins of the Rana Plaza complex, which may have had as many as 3,000 workers inside at the time of the collapse.
Mahbubur Rahman Tapas and Balzul Samad Adnan, the owner and managing director of the largest of the five factories housed in the collapsed building, are accused of continually ignoring warnings regarding the building's safety and forcing their employees to continue working under these known unsafe conditions.
Two engineers involved in designing the complex were also arrested early on Saturday for ignoring the same warnings when cracks were spotted in the building on Tuesday.
Wednesday's collapse was the third major industrial incident in five months in Bangladesh, the second-largest exporter of garments in the world. In November, a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory killed 112 people.
For more of The Guardian story: guardian.co.uk
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Charlotte N.C. Mayor Foxx to be nominated for U.S. Transportation Secretary
President Obama announced Monday he will nominate Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., as the next transportation secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Foxx will manage the country's road, bridges and airports, replacing departing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, also on hand for the announcement.
After remarking that Foxx was an "impressive leader" and "one of the best mayors that Charlotte has ever seen," President Obama took the opportunity to urge Congress to provide billions in transportation infrastructure spending, saying the main priority of the White House is to improve the economy and increase jobs.
"One of the best ways we can do that is to put more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure," Obama said.
As an African American, Foxx would add variety to Obama's cabinet, which some have said currently lacks diversity, especially in terms of women and minorities.
Foxx was the first black student body president at Davidson College, and has a law degree from New York University. He worked as a lawyer for a private firm and for the House Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department before returning to Charlotte to begin his political career.
Foxx joint the Charlotte City Council in 2005 and has been the city's mayor for four years. As a major Roxx worked on several transportation projects, including work to extend a light-rail line, add a runway at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, widen a major highway, improve a major bridge and bring streetcars back to Charlotte.
For more of the New York Times story: nytimes.com
Suez Canal fees increase May 1
On Wednesday Egypt will raise the fees for ships sailing through the Suez Canal in an effort to boost the economy as part of an effort to head off a currency crisis.
The fees will increase by 5 percent on oil tankers and petrochemical products and by 2 percent for container ships and car carriers.
The 120-mile canal is the fastest ocean route between Asia and Europe, saving shipping lines an estimated two weeks of journey time.
The strategic waterway is one of the main sources of foreign currency for Egypt, bringing in approximately $5 billion a year during a period when the country faces political and economic unrest. The new toll fees will start at midnight, a Suez Canal official said.
Last year, tolls were raised by 3 percent for all ships passing through the canal.
For more of the Reuters story: en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com
Hamburg Süd changes chassis provision model in Norfolk
Hamburg Süd will change its policy on chassis provision in the Norfolk, Virginia region.
The company will no longer serve as a provider of chassis to shippers for cargo moving under merchant's haulage through area terminals, as of July 1, 2013.
Shippers or their agents can procure equipment either directly from the HRCP II Pool or from other chassis vendors.
Carrier-provided intermodal moves will be unaffected by this change.
OOCL to add Abu Dhabi to CMX service
Orient Overseas Container Line made a deal with Abu Dhabi Terminals to add Khalifa Port Container Terminal to their CMX service, linking Abu Dhabi with key Asian destinations and providing faster transit times to Singapore.
The Hong Kong-based shipping line inked the deal this week, when they visited Khalifa Port Container Terminal to review the port's facilities and services.
The first OOCL vessel to call at the Khalifa terminal is expected June 11 and will provide the port with a direct connection to Ningbo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chiwan, Singapore, Nansha, and Xiamen.
Pirates kidnap five from container ship
Pirates have kidnapped five crewmembers from a cargo ship off Nigeria, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The MV City of Xiamen container ship was attacked late on April 25 by 14 heavily armed pirates and breached its safe room. The pirates took five sailors captive, then stole cash from the ship and crew.
West Africa is a key source of oil, cocoa and metals for global markets, but international navies are not currently involved in counter-piracy missions there, making cargo ships soft targets for the maritime criminals.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
April U.S. manufacturing growth slowest in 4 months
The Institute for Supply Management's factory index dropped to 50.7 in April from its March reading of 51.3, indicating that manufacturing in the U.S. grew at its slowest rate in four months. A reading of above 50 reflects growth.
Manufacturing is slowing down as the need to build inventories has lessened and federal budget cuts kick in. Companies such as Tenneco Inc. predict the sector may stay sluggish until the second half of the year, with consumers dealing with higher payroll taxes and low demand from struggling European economies.
"We're in a bit of a lull right now," said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York. "It's consistent with the pullback in the broader economy, in consumer spending, business spending and government. We see this as temporary."
China factories also expanded at a weaker pace in April. The Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 50.6 in April from 50.9 in March.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Maher Terminals appoints Gary Cross as new CEO
Gary Cross has been appointed as president and CEO of Maher Terminals, one of the largest container terminals at the Ports of New York and New Jersey, according to a recent announcement from the company's board.
"Gary rapidly rose to the top as the most appropriate choice to lead the Maher organization forward with his impactful leadership and experience," said Enrico Sanna, head of operating assets at Deutsche Bank. "On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce the conclusion of our extensive search and I want to commend the Executive Search Committee for the integrity of this very important selection process."
Cross joined Maher in 1978 as a management trainee in the Safety Department and has held positions of increasing responsibility with the company ever since. He joined the sales and marketing team in 1996, eventually becoming head of marketing and business development in 2009.
In 2001, Cross was promoted to executive vice president, in charge of Maher's container business at its terminals in Port Elizabeth and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
U.S. railroads rally on coal shipping rebound
The volume hauled by the seven largest railroads in the U.S. was up to 106,728 carloads of coal in the week ended April 20, up 22 percent from its record low at the end of 2012, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Coal accounted fro 21 percent of all carloads, and the rebound boosted the rail industry, which has been challenged by a decrease in coal shipments that started in 2008.
Last year coal shipments dropped at all three of the largest railroads due to utilities switching to natural gas. Due to rising natural gas prices, predictions of a hot summer and an improving economy, rail revenue from coal has started to increase.
"The worst has passed," said Nathaniel Gabriel, an industrials analyst at Argus Research Co. in New York, who has a buy rating on Union Pacific. "I see Union Pacific as top of the pack in terms of leveraging higher coal volumes into earnings growth as we pull out of this rut."
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
Hutchison Port Holdings Trust Q1 profit down 15.5 percent
Hutchison Port Holdings Trust reported its first-quarter profits fell 15.5 percent year-over-year, primarily on costs related to the acquisition of Asia Container Terminals.
Net profit for the three months ended March 31 was $60.4 million, as revenue grew 1.1 percent to $370 million during the same period, a company statement reported.
In the first quarter, container throughput at HPHT's main Hong Kong terminals fell by 7.4 percent compared with the same period last year due to lower volumes.
"The euro zone remains mired in recession, the United States is experiencing modest growth and emerging countries are anticipated to continue playing a significant role in driving global growth," said the HPHT statement. "Consequently, transshipments and the Far East, Africa, Central and South America and Oceania trade routes are expected to outperform the sluggish Europe and slow growth North America routes."
HPHT said while a strike at its Hong Kong terminals "disrupted operations, business was returning to normal." Approximately 450 Hong Kong dockworkers have been on strike since March 28 over low wages and poor working conditions at Kwai Tsing container terminals.
For more of the Today story: todayonline.com
Two cargo ships collide off Greece, 2 dead, 8 missing
Two people drowned and eight were missing after two cargo ships collided off Greece Monday, according to the Coast Guard.
The dead and missing crew were from the cargo ship Pirireis, sailing under a Cook Islands flag with a crew of 17, said the Coast Guard official. The Pirireis had a collision with the ConSouth carrier, sailing under an Antigua-Barbuda flag.
The 16 crew of the ConSouth were unharmed and the ship was not damaged.
The Pirireis, owned by Turkish shipping firm Emiroglu, was reportedly transporting fertilizers from Algeria to Ukraine.
For more of The Nation story: nation.com.pk
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Drewry report: Big ship orders underscore industry supply pressures
Efforts by shipping lines to address ship overcapacity are negated by new orders for Ultra Large Container Vessels hitting the news, according to Drewry's monthly report, "Sea & Shipper Insight."
Recent headlines that China Shipping Container Lines will join Maersk in the super-size containership trend, with their intention to purchase five 18,000-TEU ships, is further proof of the demand for these fuel-efficient ULCVs among the major lines, Drewry said.
Although obviously the new ships won't be in service for years to come, Drewry says the psychological impact will keep the attention on capacity and how carriers can absorb it all, and may keep freight rates down.
"Ocean carriers did a decent job over the winter months balancing supply to ensure that freight rates remained relatively firm, but the delivery of big new ships – leading to new services and upgrades of existing loops – will mean lines will find that task increasingly difficult for the remainder of 2013," said Simon Heaney, research manager at Drewry.
"These new orders and speculation of more to come could be having a negative impact on rates right now. Carriers cannot shift the paradigm from the supply pressure they are facing so that they can get rates moving upwards again," added Heaney.
Maritime freight rates are falling, with Drewry's East-West Index decreasing by 5.6 percent in March, year-over-year.
Federal lawmakers talk port deepening at Port of Charleston
Port officials in Charleston talked port improvement projects with federal lawmakers yesterday, including Rep. Bill Schuster, chair of the House Committee on Transportation, who said the country's dredging projects could be paid for if a national harbor trust fund wasn't used for other purposes.
Rep. Bill Schuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, S.C. Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Jim Clyburn toured the port. Shuster said the visit was part of a series of visits he is making to view the country's transportation infrastructure.
Rep. Schuster asserted that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund this year collected about $1.8 billion through port fees but only about $800 million went to port projects.
"The other portion of that is the Washington shell game that allows appropriators to spend it in other places," he said. "If you were to dedicate all that funding to harbor maintenance and the dredging and expanding of the ports you would have a lot of the money _ maybe not all your need."
"The question out there as to dredging the port and deepening it 5 feet more is not just important to South Carolina and to Charleston, but to the nation as well," Schuster said.
The proposed $300 million deepening of the Charleston Harbor shipping channel is currently being studied, and an environmental impact statement is expected in 2014. Port of Charleston officials hope the project can be completed by 2015 in order to accommodate mega-ships that will traverse the expanded Panama Canal.
For more of Myrtle Beach Online story: myrtlebeachonline.com
Port of Tacoma terminal picketed Tuesday by union retirees
The picket line of retired union dockworkers that closed down the Port of Tacoma's Washington Union Terminal on Tuesday morning was not allowed under the provisions of the longshore contract, according to an arbitrator.
The terminal was reopened Tuesday afternoon after the retired longshoremen removed their pickets.
The pickets were protesting the Pacific Maritime Association's alleged failure to pay retiree medical benefits. The PMA represents waterfront employers. Active longshore union workers, who operate the container cranes, gatehouses and container carriers at the terminal, would not cross the picket lines.
"PMA employers are taking away medical insurance from ILWU pensioners, their surviving spouses and children," said the retiree group, the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association.
"The picket line was unfortunate, and ruled non bona fide by an arbitrator under the terms of the ILWU-PMA Agreement," according to a news release from the PMA.
"Frustrations of some ILWU members stem from delays in processing claims due to the transition to the new third party administrator, to a backlog of over 100,000 unprocessed claims left over from the prior administrator, to medical providers misdirecting their claims, and to the receipt of more than 20,000 claims coastwide every week since the first of the year," the statement read.
Up to 36 trucks were lined up along Port of Tacoma Road around noon on Tuesday, waiting to get in.
Port of Tacoma representative Tara Mattina said the port terminal operators were working late into Tuesday afternoon address the backlog.
For more of The News Tribune story: thenewstribune.com
China's manufacturing growth down in April
China's manufacturing growth is down in April, evidenced by the final April reading of 50.4 for a Purchasing Managers' Index released May 1 by HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics.
The 50.4 number was down from the 51.6 reading for March and also lower than the preliminary estimate of 50.5 from 12 analysts polled by Bloomberg. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
"The slower growth of manufacturing activities in April confirmed a fragile growth recovery" in the broader economy, said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist with HSBC in Hong Kong, in a statement. "The looming deflationary pressures also suggest softer overall demand conditions. All this is likely to weigh on the labor market, which is likely to invite more policy responses in the coming months."
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Canadian sailors opened fire in Jamaican waters
Last year, Canadian Navy reservists participating in a U.S.-led war on drugs triggered a diplomatic conflict when they fired their weapons and intercepted fishing trawlers in Jamaican waters without that nation's permission.
The incident, which violated international maritime law, has just recently been publicly reported for the first time.
In March of last year, the HMCS Goose Bay and Kingston were patrolling south of Jamaica as part of Canada's contribution to an ongoing, U.S.-led anti-drug trafficking mission in the Caribbean and East Pacific.
For more of the Vancouver Sun story: vancouversun.com