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.

Maritime Union of New Zealand supports ILWU in letter to PMA

Saturday in New Zealand: MUNZ officers Joe Fleetwood and Garry Parsloe get support from the ILWU delegation including International Vice President-Mainland Ray Familathe, center.

Last year, the ILWU supported Maritime Union of New Zealand workers in their fight for good jobs in the Port of Auckland. Pictured are MUNZ officers Joe Fleetwood and Garry Parsloe, with ILWU International Vice President-Mainland Ray Familathe in the center.

Joe Fleetwood, National Secretary of the Maritime Union of New Zealand, has sent a letter on behalf of his union to Pacific Maritime Association President Jim McKenna that concludes with the words, “Like the ILWU and ITF, we are keen that a fair and swift resolution be reached in these contract talks, and call on the PMA to demonstrate the same determination as the ILWU in achieving this.”

Download the letter in PDF format here.


Exploding reefer update: Database targets criminals who supply counterfeit gas

Exploding reefer

Some of the world’s biggest logistics companies – and even the United Nations – are still struggling against criminal gangs supplying counterfeit refrigerant gas to the cool supply chain.

In an article titled “Database to combat counterfeit gas gangs,” The Loadstar reports:

A new database of companies which service refrigerated containers has gone public in a move aimed at combatting the criminals who supply substandard refrigerant gas linked to explosions which have killed at least four workers in recent years. Much of the suspect gas is believed to originate in South-East Asia, but it lingers and travels throughout the supply chain.

The issue has been apparent since 2010 but with no robust global system of enforcement, the dodgy gas still finds its way into reefer boxes, not only threatening worker safety but also causing expensive equipment damage, while potentially jeopardising cargo and vessels.

Mark Bennett, senior vice president at Triton Containers, and a Container Owners Association (COA) member, said 20,000 test results conducted by leasing companies have demonstrated conclusively that contamination must be happening during servicing, rather than at the manufacturing stage.

For more information:


Falling bunker prices saving shipping industry $117 million daily, BIMCO says

From the Journal of Commerce:

The international shipping industry is only spending 0.1 percent less on bunker fuel than it was 24-weeks ago, but that fluctuation equates to big savings: $117 million daily.

For an 8,000 TEU ship, the savings amount to about $20,000 per day, per ship. Ships of that size consume about 225 tons of fuel per day at 24 knots, or 150 tons per day at 21 knots, according to a study by Hofstra University. On June 1, the price to run an 8,000 TEU ship for one day would have been about $86,700. With current prices, that cost sank to $65,625 per day.

The cost savings are trickling down to shippers, who are enjoying lessened bunker surcharges as a result.

More at the JOC


Union says West Coast ports won’t shut down, others not so sure

Excerpts from the Puget Sound Business Journal:

West Coast ports may be slower, but they will not shut down during the holiday season.

That’s according to Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union.

“Nobody wants to shut down the ports,” Merrilees said. “Nobody on either side of the negotiating table is talking about shut downs.”

When asked about whether shut downs could happen, the PMA wasn’t as staunch as the ILWU in its response.

The last time ports along the West Coast shut down was in 2002, when the union was locked out. The ILWU hasn’t gone on strike in decades.

Read the full article


Trucker strike at ports of L.A. and Long Beach ends

Striking truck drivers from two companies agreed Friday to return to work, organizers said, ending a nine-day trucker protest at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The two struck companies — Pacer International Inc. and Harbor Rail Transport — said in statements that they would not retaliate against drivers who walked off the job and vowed to continue discussions with the Teamsters Union, which is backing the drivers.

Drivers from the other five firms ended their strikes before Friday, following progress in negotiations between the Teamsters and the targeted companies, according to protest organizers.

More in the Los Angeles Times


Maersk establishes captive insurance company

Maersk has joined a large number of companies and established its own insurance company to handle its own risk management. Doing so allows the company to cut its insurance costs by one third, saving 600 million kroner annually.

“We have a great balance, so we absorb a lot of risk on our own,” Lars Henneberg, the head of Maersk Insurance and risk management within Maersk Group, told Berlingske.

“We do not have to pay an additional premium to an external company.”

More at the Copenhagen Post


La ITF critica severamente el ataque a un sindicato por parte de la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá

[Link to English]

La ITF (Federación Internacional de los Trabajadores del Transporte) ha tachado hoy de ataque público a los sindicatos la conducta de la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP), que infringe claramente los acuerdos internacionales del país.

La federación sindical mundial ha condenado el hecho de que la ACP intentara, a través de los tribunales, acabar con la Unión de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC), una organización sindical afiliada a la ITF.

El presidente de la ITF, Paddy Crumlin, señaló: “Nuestros compañeros y compañeras de UCOC cuentan con la solidaridad y el respaldo de la ITF al completo en lo que respecta al asunto relacionado con la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá. La ACP está intentando acabar con este sindicato, utilizando tácticas retorcidas y oportunistas – actualmente está intentando apelar la decisión que la Junta de Relaciones Laborales tomó como consecuencia del fallo del Tribunal Supremo de 2009 y, de esa manera, intentar invalidar e incapacitar al sindicato UCOC. La ACP también ha pedido al Tribunal Supremo que suspenda de forma inmediata, como medida preventiva hasta que se tome una decisión definitiva, el reconocimiento del sindicato y que incaute y congele sus activos”.

El secretario general de la ITF, Steve Cotton, añadió: “Éste es un caso típico de práctica antisindical y una violación fundamental de los principios de libertad sindical de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT), que el gobierno panameño aprobó correctamente. La ACP se está comportando como un estado dentro de otro estado. Es imposible evitar sospechar que tras su lícita sumisión se esconda un intento especialmente drástico de evitar tener que negociar con UCOC un convenio colectivo de trabajo – con una dosis complementaria de venganza contra los legítimos intentos sindicales de cuestionar el comportamiento de la ACP”.

En agosto de este año, la ITF y cuatro organizaciones sindicales panameñas, incluida UCOC, presentaron una denuncia formal ante la OIT por el comportamiento de la ACP. David Heindel, presidente de la sección de gente de mar de la ITF, comentó: “Es inevitable presumir que esta conducta por parte de la ACP ha sido cuando menos motivada en parte por esta denuncia. También parece que sea un intento de desviar la atención de los retrasos y los problemas derivados de la apertura de la tercera serie de esclusas del canal, y de encubrir los importantes temas operativos y de seguridad derivados del funcionamiento actual del canal”.

Leer en inglés

Fuente: ITF


ITF slams Panama Canal Authority’s attack on union

[Leer en español]
The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) today branded moves by the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) an open attack on trade unions which is in clear breach of the country’s international commitments.

The global union federation’s condemnation came as the PCA sought to use the courts to close down the ITF-affiliated Unión de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC – Panamanian Tugboat Captains’ Union).

ITF president Paddy Crumlin explained: “The whole ITF stands in solidarity with, and supports, our colleagues in the UCOC against the Panama Canal Authority. The PCA is trying to shut the union down, using tortuous and opportunistic tactics – it’s currently seeking to appeal against a Labor Relations Board decision which was taken as a result of a Supreme Court decision in 2009 and, in doing so, to seek de-recognition and invalidation of the UCOC. The PCA’s petition also calls for the Supreme Court to immediately suspend, as a precautionary measure, the recognition of the union pending its final decision and to seize and freeze the union’s assets.”

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added: “This is a classic case of union busting and a fundamental breach of the International Labour Organization (ILO) principles of freedom of association which the Panamanian government rightly adopted. The PCA is acting like a state within a state. It is impossible to avoid the suspicion that behind its legal submission is a particularly drastic attempt to avoid having to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the UCOC – with a side helping of revenge for trade unions’ rightful attempts to question the PMA’s behaviour.”

In August of this year the ITF and four Panamanian trade unions, including the UCOC, made a formal complaint to the ILO over the PMA’s behaviour.. As ITF seafarers’ section chair David Heindel commented: “The PMA will not escape the suspicion that this move is at least in part motivated by that complaint. It also looks like an attempt to distract attention from the delays and problems with the opening of the third set of locks in the canal and to cover up the substantial safety and operational issues arising from the waterway’s current operation.”

Source: ITF


German trade unions pledge solidarity with ILWU

verdi logoTorben Seebold, on behalf of ver.di, United Services Trade Union in Germany and the Maritime Coordinator for ITF Germany, wrote to the Pacific Maritime Association pledging solidarity with the ILWU.

“Like the ILWU and ITF, we are keen that a fair and swift resolution be reached in these contract talks, and call on the PMA to demonstrate the same determination as the ILWU in achieving this.”

Download the letter here


FMC looks into latest US West Coast port surcharges

From the Journal of Commerce:

U.S. Federal Maritime Commission staff is looking into ocean carriers’ renewed plans to implement West Coast port congestion surcharges, FMC Chairman Mario Cordero said [Friday].

The questions are the same ones the FMC staff began asking earlier this month when trans-Pacific carriers announced that on Nov. 21 they would implement pre-filed surcharges to cover costs of severe congestion at West Coast ports.

The carriers suspended those plans amid shipper criticism. However, several carriers have announced plans at the end of this week to activate surcharges for cargo at Asian origin points effective Nov. 26. The surcharges generally are $1,000 per 40-foot container.


European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) supports ILWU in letter to PMA

In a letter to PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna, our brother Terje Samuelsen, Chair of the Dockers’ Section of the ETF wrote:

ETF logoI am writing to you as the Chair of the Dockers’ Section of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) to express our strong support for our brother union in the ITF, the ILWU, which is currently negotiating with the PMA for a coast wide contract.

These negotiations are of course extremely important to West Coast longshoremen and women, their families and communities, and, indeed the American public. ITF affiliates and regions around the world including the ETF are also following these negotiations closely given the significance of the West Coast trade and the leading role that the ILWU plays within the global family of dockworker unions.

Download the full ETF letter here


Despite reports to the contrary, ILWU and PMA are ‘meeting and making progress’

In an article called ”West Coast shippers accuse dockworkers of slowing talks,” Bloomberg reports:

West Coast shippers embroiled in contract negotiations with dockworkers accused the longshoremen of delaying “big table” talks, while the union said smaller-group discussions are still productive.

Bargaining through Dec. 1 will be confined to subcommittees “discussing limited issues,” as officials of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union take a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, said the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents management.

“We’re both meeting and both making progress,” ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees said in a telephone interview. “It’s not about how many people are in the room. It’s about work getting done and problems getting solved.”


Dear Mr. McKenna: From the National Federation of Dockworkers Unions of Japan

We appreciate that our fellow dockworkers’ union, the National Federation of Dockworkers Unions of Japan (Zenkoku Kowan), has sent a solidarity letter to PMA President & CEO Jim McKenna. an excerpt:

Along with the other dockworker leaders meeting in London, England this week, we have pledged to provide active solidarity support to the ILWU and its members by any and all legal means available to us, if necessary, in order to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Like the ILWU and ITF, we are keen that a fair and swift resolution be reached in these contract talks, and call on the PMA to demonstrate the same determination as the ILWU in achieving this.

Yours faithfully,

Kinichiro Itoya
Zenkoku Kowan [National Federation of Dockworkers Unions of Japan]

Dockworkers Union of Japan solidarity with ILWU

Click on the image to download the full letter in PDF format.


US retailers worry West Coast port delays will hurt post-Black Friday restocking

From the Journal of Commerce:

Retailers hope West Coast port congestion won’t impact impact their holiday sales.

Major U.S. retailers don’t expect U.S. West Coast port congestion to hamper getting Black Friday products on the shelves, but they’re far less confident on their ability to keep stores stocked through the entire holiday season.

Home Depot doesn’t expect supply chain trouble leading up to Black Friday, but the retailer is “concerned over the long-haul here the West Coast ports, the rail situation, the driver shortage, all look to create uncertainty in terms of transportation rates going forward.

Ports on the U.S. West Coast are suffering from crippling congestion and have been since August.

More at the JOC


PierPass meets with Federal Maritime Commission and industry stakeholders to address congestion

Excerpts from a Pierpass news release:

PierPass Inc. executives have concluded meetings with the five Federal Maritime Commissioners (including Chairman Mario Cordero) and with FMC staff, briefing them on measures the marine terminal operator (MTO) members of PierPass are taking to address the current congestion issues in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In a series of meetings late last week in Washington, D.C., PierPass also met with representatives from the National Retail Federation, the National Industrial Transportation League, the Waterfront Coalition, and the Agriculture Transportation Coalition to provide them with these updates.

PierPass Chairman Bruce Wargo and President John Cushing reported that the MTOs have been spending $3 million per week on additional and unbudgeted costs since September 1 to manage congestion.

Read the rest here