Felixstowe Dockers

Felixstowe Dockers

Friday, 18 April 2014

A docker's interview

A short while ago a Belgian bloke who works as a docker in one of the ports of Belgium got interviewed during a manifestation.
He talks about the plans wich the European Parlement has and why a delegation of 1200 dockers joined this manifestation.
This report already was published on the net but a lot of dockers from other ports asked for a translation.
So they could keep up with the newsfed from Belgium: here's the translation.
Feel free to share this movie!

Tim Daze's photo.

European ports to be tested by mega-alliances

Terminal operators in Europe will soon face new pressures from mega-alliances, but have yet to show that their hinterland cargo can be delivered efficiently under the conditions envisaged. The FMC’s recent approval of the P3 alliance suggests that its services will become reality in all three proposed East-West routes by the middle of the year. Whatever shippers think of the development, Port Authorities and terminal operators will be challenged by its consequences, particularly in Europe. Port rationalisation so far announced by Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM means that much bigger chunks of Asian cargo will have to be discharged from every vessel, and then, just as importantly, processed through each gateway to its hinterland before the next arrives, possibly just a few days later.

The ability to berth vessels timeously will count for little if insufficient stack capacity is available to receive their cargo. In most cases, that means greater use of intermodal transport, as most EU roads are already congested. Berthing vessels on time also depends on them arriving on time, which, as regularly reported in Drewry’s Carrier Performance Insight, cannot be taken for granted, particularly in the case of MSC.

The problem of handling vessels over 14,000 teu is not new, only the scale of it is escalating, as evidenced by Evergreen’s plans to join the CKYH alliance between Asia and Europe this month, and the spate of ULCV ships still being ordered (see Table 1), all of which are earmarked for the Asia/Europe trade.

The G6 and CKYHE alliances will also have to become much more integrated than simple vessel sharing agreements in order to match P3’s efficiency, which means further port rationalisation. Like P3, their port calls will get fewer as vessels get bigger, so the cargo needing to be processed in favoured ports every week will inevitably escalate.

Asia/North Europe services have already changed significantly over the past two years. Whilst average vessel size only increased from 9,367 teu to 10,923 teu, the number of weekly services has reduced from 30 to 22, and the number of port calls from 104 to 87.  Interestingly, the number of Northern European ports served did not decrease, only the frequency, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1
Comparison of Asia/N Europe Port Calls Between 2012-2014

Figure 2 shows the way Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM’s schedules between Asia and Northern Europe will further change once P3 is established. Average vessel size will increase from 11,580 teu to 13,032 teu, but the number of weekly services will be reduced from nine to eight, and the number of port calls from 41 to 32. In our view, similar reductions will occur in Asia and North America in a few years.

Figure 2
Maersk/MSC/CMA CGM Asia/N Europe Service Port Calls in N Europe

European ports have seen this challenge coming for a long time, which is why so much time and money has been invested in dredging and the development of intermodal transport. The latter remains a problem, however, as Europe’s railway infrastructure is still more congested than its roads. For example, Rotterdam has been at the forefront of developing intermodal transport, yet the way its hinterland cargo is transported has changed little over the past four years (see Table 2). The Netherlands is still the only country with a dedicated railway line for freight (between Rotterdam and the German border), and, like Antwerp, has improved its barge handling facilities enormously.

Table 2
Rotterdam’s Modal Split of Containers between 2009 and 2012 (% of total)

The table is deceptive as although 54% of Rotterdam’s hinterland cargo moved by road in 2012, which percentage is said to have changed little in 2013 (final figures are not yet available), the proportion is much higher for short distances. Likewise, rail scores better over longer distances. Also, much cargo that used to be stuffed/unstuffed in the port is now handled at ‘inland’ ports such as Duisburg on the German border. Duisburg is Europe’s largest inland port and increased its container traffic by another 16% last year, up to three million teu, whereas Rotterdam’s cargo declined by 2.1%, down to 11.6 million teu.

Hamburg’s modal split also changed little in 2013, with road’s share still reaching 59%, compared to 39% for rail transport and 2% for barge transport. For distances over 700km, rail’s share rises to over 70%, however.

Our View
Europe’s slow climb out of recession means that cargo growth should remain manageable this year and next, but it is only a temporary benefit of the economic slowdown. Much more needs to be done to improve intermodal transport.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Port of Felixstowe has started work on a quay extension to enable two Ultra Large Container Ships to come alongside at berth 8 & 9 at the same time:

The Port of Felixstowe has started work on a quay extension to enable two Ultra Large Container Ships to come alongside at berth 8 & 9 at the same time:

Bad times at The Port Of Felixstowe many years ago

Tuesday May 18 1999  (Lloyd's List)

Resounding vote for strike action at Felixstowe

by David Osler
FELIXSTOWE dock workers have voted massively in favour of strike action that could cripple Britain's biggest container port, the Transport and General Workers' Union confirmed yesterday.
Any stoppage could have a devastating effect on the North Sea trade, as the port is a key transhipment link for the UK.
It may also spark solidarity action at other facilities where Felixstowe's Hong Kong-based parent Hutchison Whampoa has an interest, including Rotterdam's massive Europe Combined Terminals.
Meanwhile, other ports on the east and south coasts will be seeking to take commercial advantage of their rival's present difficulties.
Felixstowe management is seeking to implement a labour restructuring package that could see basic pay for some dockers slashed by 40%.
Such a reduction would leave many employees with pay packets significantly lower than those of their counterparts at other major UK ports. The company argues that the shortfall will be made up by supplementary payments.
Unrest has been simmering since the plans were announced late last year, despite the port's reputation for enjoying some of the most stable industrial relations in the sector.
Dockers were asked by the TGWU if they were prepared to take strike action on the issue. The result of the ballot was 1,467 in favour and 220 against, a yes vote of 87%.
A second question, asking if members were prepared to take action short of a strike, was carried by an even higher margin. Some 1,600 backed the call, with only 58 against, a yes vote of 95%.
A total of 1,816 ballot papers were issued and 1,691 returned. The 93% turnout was unusually high for a vote of this kind.
Under UK law, the union, which has formally declared the dispute official, now has 28 days in which to commence action. At this stage, however, it is likely that it will seek to use the strike mandate as a bargaining tool. Both sides were yesterday talking to government conciliation service ACAS.
Management seemingly took the vote in its stride, describing the result as "disappointing but not altogether unexpected".

ILO Visits ‘B Ladybug’ Drifting off Malta

International Labour Organization (ILO) representatives visited the crew of the B Ladybug, a Ro-Ro ship, which has been stranded off the coast of Malta for almost a year after its owner went bankrupt.

ILO Visits 'B Ladybug' Drifting off Malta
The provision of financial security for abandoned seafarers and the issue of compensation are two key topics under discussion this week at the ILO.
B Ladybug is 27003 DWT vehicles carrier and it is sailing under Panama flag.

ILO, April 7, 2014; Image: Shipspotting

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

No ‘dumbing-down’ of the Daily Maersk, so how will schedules fare within the P3?

By Mike Wackett
04.15.2014 · Posted in Loadstar posts
121005 Edith Maersk in SCCT turning basin
Assuming that the proposed P3 network receives clearance from Chinese regulators, and there are no last minute objections from the EC, the world’s three biggest ocean carriers – Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM – will launch their east-west vessel-sharing agreement in the second half of the year.
This mega-alliance is likely to be a game-changer – although one that is not without its challenges.
Much has been spoken and written of the differing business philosophies of the individual P3 members since the co-operation was announced last June. For instance, in terms of reporting financial performance, Maersk is extremely transparent, CMA CGM is selective in its transparency and MSC chooses to reveal nothing.
In fact, the comparison between Maersk, which has become the biggest largely by acquisition, and the second-ranked and organically grown MSC couldn’t be greater: the first embraces the media while the latter is generally media-shy.
Moreover, in terms of schedule reliability, Maersk Line has sat at the top of the league table for some time, while MSC is normally found propping up the bottom and French carrier CMA CGM generally figuring just above halfway up.
Prior to unexpectedly revealing it had decided to join forces operationally with its two biggest rivals, the Danish carrier’s philosophy was to trump competition on the key Asia-Europe tradelane by offering delivery time guarantees underpinned by financial compensation.
Launched in October 2011, the Daily Maersk service was hailed as a groundbreaking development, offering shippers the certainty of daily sailings and arrival times at north European ports.
It was a revolutionary product that Copenhagen hoped would differentiate Maersk Line from the competition and allow it to charge a premium price; or at least save it from the financial consequences of carrier-hopping by forwarders understandably taking advantage of the container lines’ rate-cutting race in their quest to fill half-empty ships.
However, two and a half years on, it is arguable whether the Daily Maersk’s success has been all that was expected. There is certainly no evidence of Maersk enjoying a premium rate on Asia-Europe; its $1.5bn net profit in 2013 instead coming from better cost control and economy of scale benefits gleaned from operating larger ships than its competitors.
Despite preparing to join a VSA with MSC and CMA CGM, Maersk is adamant that the Daily Maersk product is here to stay, even on the soon-to-be-shared vessels, and is confident that it can still differentiate itself from its P3 partners by offering a superior back-office service.
This policy was confirmed to The Loadstar at the TOC Container Supply Chain event in Singapore last week by Thomas Riber Knudsen, Maersk Line’s chief executive for Asia-Pacific.
He clearly is not prepared to accept a dumbing down of the Daily Maersk. He said: “There will be different sales forces, different IT systems, and different cargo acceptance policies.”
However, shippers seem divided in their expectations from the P3: some hoping schedule integrity will improve as a consequence of the new mega-alliance, while others fear that on-time arrivals will fall to the level of the lowest common denominator.

YM Uberty inbound at Felixstowe, 11th April 2014 April 11, 2014

Yang Ming’s 8,200 TEU YM Uberty arriving at Felixstowe, 11th April, 2014. Tugs: Svitzer Shotley and Stanford.