Ruud van der Wel, Head of APM Terminals Global Labour Relations, has said that employees will need to adjust as the pressure mounts on Europe’s port operators to deliver year-on-year cost reductions.
Speaking at the annual JOC Container Trade Europe Conference in Hamburg, Germany, van der Wel called for more cooperation from unions representing employees at APM Terminals' ports as carriers' expectations are increasing.
Van der Wel said: “The pressure is on – our liner customers and landside customers expect port operators to deliver year-on-year cost reductions, higher productivity and show more flexibility in port operations.
“This impacts the way we organize the work at our terminals and requires our employees to adjust to this new reality.
“When I compare trade unions of the port industry with other industries – we have a way to go before unions and companies are working on the basis of mutual trust, dialogue and collaboration and with a common long-term strategy in mind.
“This is the best way forward to serve customers and sustain both the competitive success of the company and the unions’ desire for long-term employment.”
Labour disruptions in Gothenburg have been an issue in European supply chains over the past 16-18 months.
With the situation still unresolved despite two attempts by mediators, APM Terminals Gothenburg, which handles half of Sweden’s trade, has experienced a 30% drop in volumes due to the disruption.
APM Terminals Gothenburg has a valid collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Swedish Transport Union (STU).
But, according to APM Terminals, the Swedish Dockworkers Union (SDU) are unwilling to accept the agreement and expect it to violate the Labor Law and the Swedish Labor System.
Van der Wel added: “We will not agree to violating a legally valid CBA we have with the STU union.
“We respect the Swedish Labour System and will continue to operate within that context.
“If a company has a valid CBA in place, they should be protected.
“We expect the Government should protect the country’s economy and APM Terminals Gothenburg in this case.”
Van der Wel stressed that is was important that terminal workers follow European Union legislation so that friction in European terminal operations ceased, especially in Spain, where AMP Terminals has experienced disruption due to protests over the restructuring of the local port labour pool system.
Terminal automation is also meeting resistance with port labour as machines take away jobs from people.
This has happened at automated and semi-automated terminals such as APM Terminals Rotterdam Maasvlakte II.
Van der Wel stressed that AMP Terminals has a comprehensive decision-making process that looked considered many reasons.
He listed safety, customer needs, vessel size, port volumes, the type of port, terminal specifications, useable space and market competitiveness as key reasons for changing from manual to automated operations.
Van der Wel said: “In our company’s view, automation should not be viewed as -only- a threat to employment.
“Both employers and employees and their representatives must take responsibility and together find solutions.
“The topic should be on the table to discuss openly and fairly and not kept in silence.
“We should not forget that there are many advantages to technological innovation, for instance in terms of safety in operations and new types of work.
“There is a future for employees in more technology-driven ports.”
PD PORTS HAS SIGNED A CONTRACT AT ITS FELIXSTOWE-BASED WAREHOUSE OPERATION TO HANDLE THE UK WAREHOUSING FOR ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST BICYCLE BRANDS.
Specialized, a US-headquartered bicycle and accessories manufacturer has appointed PD Ports as one of its preferred logistics partner to serve its UK retailers.
As one of the UK’s major port groups and portcentric logistics specialists, PD Ports will handle and store a vast range of Specialized’s cycling accessories including helmets, shoes, spare parts, and clothing which will be imported largely from the Far East.
The service provided by PD Ports will include a fully comprehensive pick and pack operation prior to onward distribution to UK retailers; working closely with Specialized’s approved courier service.
Ian Johnson, PD Ports’ Director Portcentric Logistics, said: “This new deal with Specialized is a clear demonstration of our commitment to working in partnership with our customers to deliver real value in their supply chains, understanding their business and its needs to identify and secure efficiencies that keep costs down and quality high.
“We are very much looking forward to working with Specialized to support their growth throughout the UK retail sector over the next three years.” Leigh Smithers, Specialized UK’s Operations Manager, said: “We look forward to developing our partnership with PD Ports’ and benefiting from their expertise and proven track record in helping some of the country’s leading brands reduce costs and improve process efficiencies to transform their global supply chains.”
Felixstowe currently occupies 28 acres of land near to Dock Gate One of the Port of Felixstowe, which is the UK’s largest port in size. The port’s deepwater complex accommodates some of the biggest ships in the world, including the latest generation of ultra-post Panamax deep-draughted vessels.
Felixstowe’s connectivity allows for connection to all major roads North and South; making it a central hub and main distribution centre; an ideal location for any UK importer.
Offering three separate warehouses totalling 450,000 sq. ft. of internal storage space, 47,000 sq. ft. of canopy area, as well as an additional 18,000 sq. ft. of external storage space; Felixstowe offers a definitive response to your needs where stock can be processed if necessary in less than 24 hours.
PD Portcentric Logistics’ customs approved facility at Felixstowe is the largest warehousing and cross-docking facility within the area. Utilising 22 dock levellers in total, we can offer a full portcentric solution on both a dedicated or multi-user platform. We provide particular expertise in areas such as:
The Felixstowe site also presents 10,000 sq. ft. of office space which is available for rental, as well as the following wide range of services:
High bay warehousing (13m to eaves) which caters for both bulk and racked storage