The articles excerpted on this site report on the state of the industry as seen by mainstream media, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the officers of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division.

Louis Dreyfus Canadian canola plant offline indefinitely after fire

Louis Dreyfus fire, Yorkton, Saskatchewan

Louis Dreyfus fire, Yorkton, Saskatchewan

A canola-crushing plant owned by the Canadian unit of global grain trader Louis Dreyfus Corp will be offline indefinitely after an explosion and fire on Friday, the company said.

Firefighters are investigating the cause of the blast at the Yorkton, Saskatchewan, plant, and an assessment of the structural condition of a canola meal storage shed is under way, Louis Dreyfus Commodities said in a statement late on Monday.

The company has not released an estimate of the damage. One worker sustained a minor injury.

More at Reuters


Currency exchange gain lifts Hanjin Shipping to Q3 profit

From SeaTrade Global:

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping has generated a profit in the third quarter of 2014, reversing from a loss-making position a year ago, due mainly to a one-time gain on foreign currency translation.

Net profit in the quarter ended 30 September 2014 was registered at KRW39.8bn ($37.3m) as against a deficit of KRW317.7bn in the same period of last year.

“The (quarterly) net profit – for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2010 – recorded KRW39.8bn due to foreign currency translation gain of KRW86.5bn, from the depreciation of KRW against USD, which does not affect the actual cash flow,” Hanjin Shipping said.

More at SeaTrade Global


Maersk doubles Manila port congestion surcharge

Maersk line on Friday doubled its congestion surcharge for shipments from the U.S. and Canada to Manila, citing a slowdown in port operations, increasing vessel turn times and higher operating costs.

The congestion seen at Manila since early this year, which is some of the worst congestion seen at any major container port this year, is starting to drive shippers offshore, and investors are warning of higher consumer prices in the Philippines as a direct consequence of the chronic port congestion experienced at Manila. A culture of corruption at the port involving everyone from security guards, to truckers to sub-contractors of shipping lines was the subject of a Senate committee hearing this week where the culture was described by a senior executive of the global, Philippines-based terminal operator ICTSI.

More in the Journal of Commerce


Who pays for the ‘disadvantages of scale’ from mega-vessels and mega-alliances?

From Loadstar:

The quantum leap in container vessel sizes over the last decade has left the logistics industry searching for answers about who really wins with the introduction of mega-vessels, mega-alliances and their much-lauded economies of scale.

As the supply chain is being re-shaped to accommodate 18,000teu vessels and the world’s largest shipping lines stretch, the paradigm of what is considered “normal” on every trade lane, port operators and shippers are set to feel the pressure and pick up the cheque for a new set of “disadvantages of scale” being faced throughout the supply chain, delegates heard at the recent TOC Americas conference in Cartagena.

“Economies of scale are beneficial for some actors but it creates a whole array of other problems for others,” said Dr Jean-Paul Rodrigues, head of global studies and geography at Hofstra University. “Economies of scale work well for the shipping companies but the bigger the ships the less flexibility you have in terms of port calls, so that is an issue and this has put pressure on the ports,” he says.

More at Loadstar


Longer gate hours, extra labor fail to ease LA-LB jam

Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce:

Congestion continues to plague Los Angeles-Long Beach despite efforts by terminal operators to remain open longer and use all longshore labor at their disposal.

“They’re showing up to work,” said Jim McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, the employers’ organization that negotiates and administers the International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract at West Coast ports. However, the added labor requirements caused by port congestion are exhausting the labor supply, he said.

Meanwhile, PierPass reports that the majority of the terminals are hiring extra labor to keep their gates open to truckers during the lunch hours and during shift changes to provide seamless gates from early morning until late into the night.

Nevertheless, the persistent congestion problem shows no signs of dissipating. “It’s gotten worse,” said Alex Cherin, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association. “The frustration (among drayage companies) continues to rise.”

More at the Journal of Commerce:


Costa Rica presents US$750mn investment plan to settle union dispute

Costa Rica’s labor ministry (MTSS) presented a formal proposal outlining a 406bn-colón (US$751mn) investment plan intended to strengthen Atlantic port authority Japdeva and develop projects in Limón province.

The proposal seeks to resolve an ongoing dispute between the government and the Japdeva labor union Sintrajap.

Some 270bn colones would go to widen the Braulio Carillo highway and 140bn colones are earmarked to develop Limón’s projects portfolio, according to a government release.

Another 52bn colones would be spent strengthening Japdeva, including purchasing two post-Panamax cranes and a tug boat, and expanding the Kogan Kogan terminal at the Moín port.

Sintrajap has been on strike since October 22 in protest at the award of the Moín container terminal concession to Maersk subsidiary APM Terminals, a project that the union fears will create a monopoly.

Sintrajap requested 48 hours to review the proposal before meeting Wednesday with MTSS, the release said.

More at Business News Americas


Costa Rica’s Labor Ministry suspends talks with unions over port project after president’s picture burned

Costa Rica’s Labor Minister Victor Morales announced that negotiations with the dockworkers union SINTRAJAP would be suspended until its leaders issued a public statement denouncing the burning of President Luis Guillermo Solís’ image outside union headquarters in the Caribbean port of Limón on Monday. Negotiations were originally scheduled to continue at the Labor Ministry on Wednesday in San José.

On Monday afternoon, unions representing teachers, and employees of the National Insurance Institute, the National Oil Refinery, and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced solidarity with SINTRAJAP but stopped short of calling for additional strikes or demonstrations. SINTRAJAP has been on strike since Oct. 22, occasionally clashing with police.

“As long as the government continues to leave Limón and SINTRAJAP in this situation we will be here standing beside them,” said Fabio Chávez, representing the ICE union.

After the announcement, union members flooded the streets and formed a Circle where they lit fire to a poster of President Solís. Once the photo had burned they dropped it to the ground, stomping on it and cheering. Earlier on Monday morning, protesters marched peacefully through the streets of Limón.

“We are calling on the people to rise up peacefully with us,” said SINTRAJAP Secretary Ronaldo Blear at the press conference.

SINTRAJAP claimed the government’s contract with APM Terminals granting the Dutch company a 33-year deal on handling containers at the docks is a “monopoly” that would eliminate public-sector jobs at the Atlantic Port Authority, JAPDEVA. Solís’ administration has argued that any attempt to re-negotiate the contract, signed in 2011, would threaten Costa Rica’s reputation with foreign investors.

Incensed by Solís’ refusal to put contract re-negotiations on the table, union leaders passed out pamphlets containing article 12.1 of the government contract with APM Terminals. The article states that the government can choose to re-negotiate the contract if it sees fit.

“No contract is written in stone. This contract is impeding the free market and the right to free competition. The government is lying to the whole country when they say they can’t re-negotiate it,” SINTRAJAP’s Blear told The Tico Times.

More at the Tico Times


APM Terminals concession in Costa Rica leads to protests, police brutality, militarization of docks

Costa Rican police invade the ports; SINTRAJAP union General Secretary Ronaldo Blear Blear speaks on the right.

Costa Rican police invade the ports; SINTRAJAP union General Secretary Ronaldo Blear Blear speaks on the right.

This 10-minute Costa Rican news segment shows dozens of police officers descending on SINTRAJAP union dockworkers and their community supporters who are protesting APM Terminals’ concession — a concession that gives the terminal operator a monopoly that SINTRAJAP leaders say will destroy good union jobs and important social services in Costa Rica’s poorest and most diverse province of Limon. Though the segment is in Spanish, many things are clear: police tearing a man off his motorcycle, herding workers into white vans, and entering the docks by the dozens.

To view the video, click on either graphic.

Policia y APMT

Policia y APMT


ITF condemns Costa Rican government, ‘will fight’ port violence

Police brutality during protest against APM Terminals in Costa Rica October 2014

Police brutality during community protest against APM Terminals in Limon, Costa Rica, October 2014.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation has strongly condemned the actions of the Costa Rican government after hundreds of police officers stormed Puerto Limon’s Moin and Limon terminals last Thursday 23rd October, violently attacking workers and arresting 68 men and women who were peacefully striking. The workers were detained, then the port re-opened Friday with strikebreakers, some of them from nearby countries, replacing the union members.

Footage of the aggressive police beatings was shown on Costa Rican TV – a shocking development in a country well known for its peacefulness and democracy.

Paddy Crumlin of the Maritime Union of Australia, the ITF’s president and chair of its Dockers’ Section said: “This is another example of profit coming first, with governments putting effort – and violent effort – into attacking the public sector.”

Crumlin added, “Dockers’ unions worldwide will fight this. They’ll be reminded of the heavy-handed tactics used by the Australian government during the infamous Patrick’s Dispute fifteen years ago.”

The dispute arose over the 33-year, $1 billion expansion deal won by APM to run a new terminal, which has been the subject of a legal battle. Under the microscope has been the huge competitive advantage granted to APM, who negotiated the exclusive right to handle containers, casting a shadow over the future of the state-owned port company Japdeva in the Moin and Limon terminals. Japdeva in turn has an explicit role as regional economic development engine, helping to fund education and health services.

The union has won significant support at home, with other public sector workers offering solidarity, and locals keenly feeling both the potential loss of Japdeva’s much-needed public sector income and understanding the environmental effects. The new facility could compromise the nesting grounds of leatherback turtles and endanger manatees, dolphins and coral reefs.

Regionally, Latin American dockworkers’ unions have rallied and presented petitions to Costa Rican embassies. Now the ITF has stepped up the pressure, writing to port unions globally asking them for support.

“All the union members want is proper observance of the law, security for existing jobs and protection of their community. Instead, the government authorised disproportionate force and hired strikebreakers. Of course the international union community is shocked,” said ITF Regional Secretary Antonio Rodriguez Fritz. “We will fight this and we will win.”


Hyundai Heavy slumps as workers go on strike

Unionized workers of Hyundai Heavy Industries endorsed a strike over wage and benefits, threatening to halt production at the world’s largest shipbuilder for the first time in 20 years. Shares of Hyundai Heavy slumped 3.4% in recent trading. The KOSPI Index was down 0.1%. Its competitor Samsung Heavy Industries (010140.KS) fell 2.7%.

Korean shipbuilders are in a slump this year from weak global demand and falling ship prices. Hyundai Heavy has lost 60% of its market value and trades at only 0.4 times book.

More at Barrons


Harbor Trucking Association warns LA-LB, Oakland of legal action

From the Journal of Commerce:

The Harbor Trucking Association will explore the possibility of filing a class action lawsuit against terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland as congestion worsens at the California ports, the association announced [last week].

In three identical letters sent to the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland by the HTA, the association says it is seeking legal counsel to investigate a potential lawsuit contending that the provisions of the Uniform Intermodal Interchange & Facilities Access Agreement and several state regulations regarding equipment return, notification and gate hours violate the Business Standards and Practices Code.

For example, HTA Executive Director Alex Cherin told JOC.com that terminals are no longer taking empty containers, but are charging a per diem when truckers don’t return chassis. Truckers have nowhere to put empties, and therefore can’t return chassis, creating a virtual catch-22 with truckers on the losing end.

More at the JOC


Matson reduces fuel surcharge

From the Star-Advertiser:

Matson Inc., the state’s largest ocean cargo carrier, said Thursday it will lower its Hawaii fuel surcharge by 5 percentage points to 37.5 percent Nov. 2 to compensate for falling ship fuel prices.

The decrease follows two increases earlier this year — 3 percentage points in June and 5 percentage points in March — imposed by Matson for shipments between the West Coast and Hawaii.

Dave Hoppes, senior vice president of ocean services for the company, said the reduction should save most customers $100 to $175 to ship a container.


APMT disputes ITF on Aqaba port strike

From the Journal of Commerce:

APM Terminals has disputed the International Transport Workers Federation’s description of last week’s strike at Aqaba Container Terminals in Jordan as a “victory” for the union representing the terminal’s dockworkers.

“We find the ITF’s statements misleading, incorrect and not supported by facts…The strike was premature and illegal, especially when held during a formal mediation process — which cannot be interpreted as a union victory,” Peder Sondergaard, APM Terminals regional CEO, said in a statement.

Sondergaard responded to an ITF statement that the union had “won its case, including the company’s waiving all penalties imposed during the strike, in particular rescinding 23 sackings, and a renewed commitment from the Jordanian government to have its grievances addressed by the national labor court.”

Last week’s strike ended with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the container terminal and the union.

More at the JOC


Costa Rica intervenes to stop strike at port, arrests 68

Costa Rican police arrested 68 people in the country’s main Atlantic port on Wednesday after a strike over plans to expand the hub threatened to paralyse shipping.

The stevedores’ union, SINTRAJAP, launched an indefinite strike on Wednesday, leaving three ships stranded and unable to unload cargo after APM Terminals won a Supreme Court decision this month against the union’s efforts to block the concession.

The union says the concession, which was first agreed in 2011, threatens public sector jobs.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis ordered the docks to be re-opened and some 150 police officers broke the strike, arresting 68 men and women in both terminals.

Security Minister Celso Gamboa said police would remain at the terminals for an indefinite period to keep them open.

More at Reuters


Dockworkers strike over APMT terminal agreement in Costa Rica

Dockworkers in Costa Rica walked off the job Wednesday, continuing a long battle over a proposed container terminal operated by APM Terminals with a strike.

Union leaders described the strike as “indefinite.” The union, which represents workers working at terminal overseen by the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA), had threatened a strike for several days after Costa Rican courts green lit a 33-year concession agreement between the government and APMT for the construction of a new container terminal in Moin.

SINTRAJAP head Ronaldo Blear told ADN that docks in Limon and Moin would be closed starting at 8:30 a.m. today, calling it a “fight for dignity, to stop a monopoly and avoid serious harm to the people of Limon.” The Port Authority told La Nacion that one container ship in Moin was in the middle of being unloaded. Two other container ships in Limon were also not able to be unloaded.

More at the Journal of Commerce