In the latest industrial unrest and delays to beset the Australian waterfront, tug masters employed by Svitzer Australia (represented by the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU)) are undertaking extensive Protected Industrial Action (PIA) across many ports in Australia.
From a container shipping perspective, these strike actions are impacting on vessel arrivals and departures in Port Botany, Brisbane and Fremantle. Thankfully, Melbourne has been spared (at this point in time).
The current notified PIAs in Australian container ports are:
- 48-hour stoppage from 00:01 on 17 February to 00:01 on 19 February
- 48-hour stoppage from 00:01 on 22 to 00:01 on 24 February
- 48-hour stoppage from 0600 on 17 February to 0600 on 19 February
- 72-hour stoppage from 0600 on 22 February to 0600 on 25 February
- 48-hour stoppage from 0700 on 24 February to 0700 on 19 February
- 48-hour stoppage from 0700 on 3 March to 0700 on 5 March
- A ban on employees performing recall and relief work during a period of leave for an unlimited duration from 0700 on 18 February
As a result of these strike actions, berthing delays in the impacted ports will deteriorate even further from the current delays caused by significant vessel off-window arrivals, vessel bunching, COVID-related labour absenteeism in container terminals, and other factors.
Container terminals are already informing landside stakeholders of changes to scheduled vessel arrivals impacting on projected import container availability dates, and export receival timeframes.
Some shipping lines have also notified vessel port rotations to try to avoid the worst of the berthing delays. While Melbourne hasn’t been targeted for strike actions yet, the rotation of some vessels to Melbourne ahead of Sydney (or Brisbane) will add further berthing pressures in Melbourne. It will also contribute further to Melbourne’s very congested landside container logistics chain where:
- Transport operators’ yards are well over-capacity
- COVID-related labour absenteeism in all sectors of the chain has contributed to logistics delays
- Container dwell times are increasing
- Major road works are extending truck travel times tremendously, leading to very negative impacts on truck productivity
- There are strains in managing empty container de-hires as well.