Disclaimer

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.

Ship hits wall of Panama Canal, renewing design concerns

The BBC has taken note of the ITF’s concerns about safety on the new Panama Canal locks:

Mechanized Panama Canal 'mules' pull ship through locks

Mechanized ‘mules’ pull ship through the previously existing Panama Canal locks. The new locks do not use mules.

A Chinese container ship has hit a wall of the recently-widened Panama Canal, amid concerns that it has less space for manoeuvres and could be unsafe.

Workers’ groups say the new locks are too small for safe operations now that the canal can take ships three times larger than before.

In the old canal locks locomotives (known as ”mules”) keep the ships correctly aligned as they passed through.

A study for the International Transport Workers’ Federation released earlier this year concluded that the new lock chambers were too small for the tugboats to be able to manoeuvre properly.

This is the third accident of this kind since the multi-million dollar expansion opened a month ago.

Full story at the British Broadcasting Corporation

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Global union leaders personally investigate victimisation of South Korean trade unionists

CUPE

Cho Sung-deok, above, is the latest person to be sentenced in relation to involvement in the mass people’s mobilization on 14 November 2015 – the suppression of which by police who used 20,000 officers, 19 water cannons, 679 buses, and 580 pepper spray devices against peaceful marchers – has escaped censure in the courts trying other union leaders. Just two weeks ago Han Sang-gyun, president of the KCTU union centre was sentenced to five years imprisonment on similar charges.

Global union leaders will be in court in Seoul today (26 July), to witness the latest in a series of unjust trials of South Korean union leaders. They will then report on what they have seen directly outside the building.

Cho Sung-deok, vice-president of the KPTU (Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union), is expected to be sentenced at 10:00 on 26 July at the Seoul Central District Court House (Room 506), 157 Seocho-Jungangro, Seocho-gu Seoul. Leaders of the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and representatives of other trade unions will give an impromptu press conference outside the court immediately afterwards (expected to be at 10:30). Journalists and photographers are invited to attend.

The ITF’s president, general secretary and assistant general secretary are visiting South Korea to observe the legal process and to visit, and offer support to other unjustly imprisoned union leaders and their families.

Cho Sung-deok is the latest person to be sentenced in relation to involvement in the mass people’s mobilisation on 14 November 2015 – the suppression of which by police who used 20,000 officers, 19 water cannon, 679 buses, and 580 pepper spray devices against peaceful marchers – has escaped censure in the courts trying other union leaders. (See http://goo.gl/86ESaF for more details). Just two weeks ago Han Sang-gyun, president of the KCTU union centre was sentenced to five years imprisonment on similar charges.

Rosa Pavanelli

”In Korea we are witnessing a purge worthy of a dictatorial regime, in which the government imprisons any dissenting voice that opposes its one-dimensional view of the world. The trial against vice president Cho and other union members is a proof of that. If today trade unionists are the main target, be sure that tomorrow others will follow. The world needs to acknowledge this and act now.” — Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of PSI Public Services International

The presence of the ITF president, general secretary and assistant general secretary shows how grave the organisation considers the situation is. ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “Any prison sentence against this man would be unjust. Other trade unionists have received sentences of three or five years. Such a term would be unbelievably harsh, an attack not just on Cho Sung-deok as an individual, but on the entire Korean union movement for daring to expect to be able to engage in lawful trade union activities and to enjoy the inalienable right to freedom of assembly.”

Speaking about the trial so far Mr Crumlin added: “It’s difficult to know where to begin to list the problems in the trials against union leaders. But how about the way the judges have condoned the heavily organised police suppression of the rally?”

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added: “This court case is part of a wider crackdown on the democratic labour movement in Korea which is clearly designed to punish unions for their legitimate opposition to the government’s planned labour reforms. That fight will continue, with transport workers and their unions at the centre of the struggle, including potential strikes in rail and road transport later this year. Transport unions and their unions are helping to lead the resistance, with the admiration and guaranteed support of the entire ITF worldwide.”

Other global union leaders have echoed the call for justice and an end to the persecution of Korean trade unions.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, added: “We need to fight back against the continued repression of legitimate trade union activities in Korea and we urge the government to immediately drop the charges.”

Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of PSI (Public Services International), commented: “In Korea we are witnessing a purge worthy of a dictatorial regime, in which the government imprisons any dissenting voice that opposes its one-dimensional view of the world. The trial against vice president Cho and other union members is a proof of that. If today trade unionists are the main target, be sure that tomorrow others will follow. The world needs to acknowledge this and act now.”

Ambet Yuson, general secretary of BWI (Building and Wood Workers’ International), stated: “Cho Sung-deok is being prosecuted for speaking out against labour reforms that will impact the lives of South Korean workers and their families. This prosecution is part of a larger attack on the entire trade union movement in the country. In June of this year 15 leaders of the tower crane branch of the Korean Construction Workers’ Union were found guilty under criminal charges for simply engaging in collective bargaining negotiations. Instead of attacking workers for exercising their fundamental democratic rights, the government should investigate and act against the brutal over-violence exercised by the police. We must all stand up against this witchhunt of trade union leaders in South Korea and crackdown on workers’ rights.”

You can follow this story on Twitter using the hashtag #UnionRightsKorea.

Source: International Transport Workers’ Federation

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Union and pilot warnings on safety realized in first collision at new Panama Canal locks

Damage to the MV Xin Fei Zhou

Panama Canal leadership had dismissed union warnings on safety for years prior to last month’s opening. Damage to the MV Xin Fei Zhou is shown here.

From an article titled ‘Containership damaged after hitting wall in Panama Canal’s new locks’ at gCaptain:

A neopanamax containership has suffered a gash to its hull after bumping into the wall of one of the new locks making up the expanded Panama Canal.

According to reports the 8,500 teu containership MV Xin Fei Zhou scrapped the side during a transit of the Agua Clara locks on the Atlantic side during a northbound transit of the canal.

The incident marks the first of what many have warned would be a recurring issue with the new locks that poses added risks to the safety of ships and workers. Unlike the existing locks, which use locomotives (aka mules), the new neopanamax locks use a configuration of two tugboats, one fore and aft, to guide ships through.

An independent study commissioned by the International Transport Workers’ Federation released earlier this year concluded that the safety of maneuverability within the new locks is compromised due to several factors, namely that the dimensions of the new lock chambers are too small for the configuration of the tugboats under various environmental conditions. The conclusions echoed similar concerns that a veteran Panama Canal ship pilot expressed to gCaptain back in July 2014 regarding the design of new locks, particularly with regards to the size of the individual lock chambers, the configuration of the tugs, and the prevailing winds that the region is known for.

The Panama Canal Authority has dismissed the conclusions of the ITF study as false, saying that the study lacked scientific accuracy and credibility.

The ship belongs to China COSCO Shipping.

See also:

More at gCaptain

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Port of San Diego adopts $176.4 million fiscal year budget

From The Log:

The Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners approved a new budget on June 15 in hopes the increase in money in the
new fiscal year would result in more opportunities to develop projects and attract more visitors to the city’s waterfront.

The total budget for fiscal year 2016-17 is $176.4 million, which, according to port staff, is a 17.7 percent increase of the previous budget of almost $150 million.

Robert DeAngelis, the port district’s chief financial officer and treasurer, identified the Chula Vista Bayfront, Harbor Island redevelopment, aquaculture, advertising on tidelands and new waterfront attractions and events as top priorities during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

He added the port district would implement a Climate Action Plan “to reduce our agency’s environmental impact.”

More at The Log

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Port of Los Angeles presses on with Valero oil terminal improvements project

The Port of Los Angeles has released anInitial Study/Notice of Preparation (IS/NOP), the first step in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process for the Marine Oil Terminal Wharf Improvements Project at the Valero Terminal on Mormon Island in Los Angeles Harbor.

The primary goal of the proposed project is to comply with the Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards (MOTEMS) to protect public health, safety, and the environment, which involves demolition of the existing 19,000-square-foot timber wharf at Berth 164 and construction and operation of a new, MOTEMS-compliant wharf, with minor infrastructure improvements to connect the new loading platform to the existing landside pipelines and utilities.

The port will hold a public meeting to receive comments on Wednesday, August 3, at 6 pm local time, at the Port of Los Angeles Administration Building in San Pedro.

More at World Maritime News

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Vice President Joe Biden makes official visit to Port of San Diego

From the Port of San Diego:

The Port of San Diego was honored to welcome Vice President Joe Biden for an official visit on July 13, 2016, to deliver remarks on trade enforcement.

The Vice President’s speech took place at the Port’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego, where a large U.S. flag was displayed on a crane used for cargo handling. Port Chairman Marshall Merrifield introduced the Vice President, who spoke for about 20 minutes to more than 200 assembled guests.

The Vice President’s speech focused on the Administration’s aggressive record on trade enforcement and discussed actions to further level the playing field for American workers and businesses, including bringing trade enforcement cases at the World Trade Organization and enforcing antidumping and countervailing duty orders.

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Family presses Kinder Morgan for answers after cab falls from crane, killing worker

Kinder Morgan Crane Fatality

Electrical engineer Timothy Dubberly, 58, was making repairs to the crane when the white cab separated and fell 100 feet to the ground, visible here. Our condolences go out to Mr. Dubberly’s family, friends and colleagues.

From Action News Jax:

The family of a man who fell to his death from a crane is pressing his employer for answers about what led to the accident.

Fernandina Beach Police Department told Action News Jax Timothy Dubberly, 58, was making repairs to the crane when the cab separated and fell 100 feet to the ground.

Dubberly’s family believes safety concerns went unresolved at the Port of Fernandina. Dubberly worked at Kinder Morgan Nassau Terminal at Fernandina Beach for 25 years as an electrical engineer.

We’ve been investigating his employer, Kinder Morgan’s Nassau terminal at Fernandina Beach, for days. According to the OSHA website, in 2011 the company was cited for a safety violation involving a forklift.

More at Action News Jax

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NYK hit by criminal cartel case in Australia

From Vessel Finder:

NYK Line

”NYK has had its fair share of cartel strife of late,” reports Vessel Finder. ”In March this year an NYK employee in the US was jailed for 15 months following a car carrier price fixing probe. In March 2014 Japan’s Fair Trade Commission ordered NYK to pay Y13bn ($12.2m) on another price fixing misdemeanor.”

Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) is in trouble in Australia where the competition watchdog has launched a criminal prosection into NYK’s “cartel behavior”, according to The Australian newspaper.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission filed a criminal indictment of NYK on Thursday. No details of the case have been revealed yet.

If found guilty, NYK faces hefty fines of up to A$10m ($7.64m), 10% of its annual turnover or three times their ill-gotten gains, whichever is larger, while individuals can be jailed for up to 10 years.

More at Vessel Finder

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ICTSI lines up $300m in financing for highly automated Australian terminal VICT

From Seatrade Maritime:

Graphic rendition of VICT terminal

Graphic rendition of proposed VICT terminal

International Container Terminal Services Inc’s (ICTSI) Australia unit has signed a AUD398m ($300m) loan facility for the construction and development of its highly automated Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT).

The financing will support the ongoing construction of VICT in Melbourne. Construction of the terminal started in late 2014 and phase one is expected to start commercial operations in the fourth quarter of 2016, with phase two coming onstream in 2017.

More at Seatrade Maritime

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Hyundai Merchant Marine joins Maersk and MSC in 2M Alliance

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) has signed on to join the 2M alliance from April next year.

HMM will join Maersk and MSC in the vessel sharing partnership, marking the latest sign that the Korean line is finally coming out of its financial woes.

HMM added that it has now completed all conditions set out in the voluntary agreement with creditors from March 2016 and in accordance with the completion of such preconditions, the planned debt-for-equity swap by creditors will be executed as planned.

No new name for 2M has yet been revealed.

More at Vessel Finder

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Hawaii shipping company Matson to acquire Span Alaska

Hawaii’s largest shipping company, Matson Inc., said Monday it will acquire Span Alaska Transportation LLC in an effort to expand its Alaska service offerings.

Matson’s subsidiary Matson Logistics Inc. will acquire 100 percent of the equity of Span Alaska for a cash purchase price $197.6 million. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

“The acquisition of Span Alaska underscores Matson’s long-term commitment to Alaska and our mission to move freight better than anyone,” said Matt Cox, president and CEO of Matson.

More at Pacific Business News

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Port of Oakland cargo up 6 percent from a year ago

The Port of Oakland’s total cargo volumes are up 6 percent over the same period a year ago. The Port reported that terminals handled 1,152,608 TEUs between January to June 2016. A TEU is a 20-foot equivalent unit, which is a standard
measure in the container shipping industry. During the same period in 2015, the volume was 1,087,417 TEUs. Total volume includes loaded and empty containers.

When looking at fully-loaded containers, the Port’s imports and exports have grown 10.1 percent compared with the same January to June period in 2015. The Port continues to see a balance between import (49%) and export (51%) cargo volumes through the Oakland gateway.

“These container statistics are encouraging in light of the current state of volatility within the global maritime industry,” said Maritime Director John Driscoll. “We are continuing to grow – a sign of the robust regional economy in Northern California and also of strong agricultural exports.”

Source: Port of Oakland news release

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Giant strike planned at Korea’s eight top shipyards

Korean shipyard workers also struck in September 2015, when this photo was taken at Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea.

Strikes at Korean yards are becoming more common as anger grows at senior management and the government This photo was taken in September 2015 when workers struck at Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea.

From Vesselfinder:

Workers at eight of South Korea’s largest shipyards will go on strike on July 20 as a protest to the ongoing restructuring of the sector, which has seen thousands of staff made redundant this year.

“Until now we have demanded that [shipbuilders] should stop restructuring that passes the blame to the labourers,” a coalition of shipbuilding unions said yesterday. “We have patiently tried to seek a peaceful resolution, but we realized that an all-out strike is the only way to defend the shipbuilding industry and our jobs.”

Strikes at Korean yards are becoming more common as anger grows at senior management and the government over the handling of the downturn. South Korea has one of the most militant set of unions in Asia, with strikes a common form of protest across all industries.

More at Vesselfinder

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Ports America exploring US$1bn sale

Ports America is reportedly exploring a sale which would value the company at US$1bn.

The terminal operator’s owner, Highstar Capital, which is a private equity firm, is working with investment bank RBC Capital Markets LLC to find a buyer, according to Bloomberg.

Ports America currently has a network of 36 container terminals in 24 US ports, and holds approximately one third of the container market share in North America, handling approximately 12 million TEU annually.

More at Container Management

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Southern California was shut out of freight, road grants; local members of Congress are furious

From the Press-Telegram:

Congresswoman Janice Hahn

”Los Angeles is home to the busiest port complex in our nation and the region is responsible for moving 40 percent of the nation’s cargo trade,” wrote Congresswoman Janice Hahn. ”It is where the freight network begins and ends and should have been an obvious choice for a grant.”

Local lawmakers are demanding to know why Southern California was shut out of the inaugural round of federal transportation grants aimed at improving freight movement to and from ports, highways and rail.

A letter sent Friday to Anthony Foxx, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, led by Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, and signed by 15 other local Democrats, contends the snub by the Obama appointee hurts both the California and national economies.

Only one project was funded in California — $50 million for extending a freeway in San Diego County to the Mexican border crossing at Otay Mesa for enhanced truck movement.

“I am not sure what they had in mind or why they did it,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte. “They overlooked the fact that the projects have national significance.”

More at the Press-Telegram

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