MUA says new terminal operator has poor IR reputation

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The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has expressed concern about the Victorian Government’s selection of a stevedore with a “poor international reputation” for IR to operate a new third container terminal in the Port of Melbourne.

The Naphtine government today surprised the maritime industry and unions by appointing a Philippines-based global stevedore for the terminal at Webb Dock.

The government chose a consortium of International Container Terminal Services and Anglo Ports.

The MUA’s national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, said that International Container Terminal Services Inc has recently been involved in labour disputes in the US and in Honduras.

“They have got a poor international reputation in industrial relations,” he said.

Mr Crumlin, who is president of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and chairs its dockers’ section, said the MUA would work with the company to develop productive, efficient and safe work practices.

Mr Crumlin said that having one-off terminal operators went against the industry’s preference for strong networks in logistic and distribution. “We will work with them to optimise the standards, but it’s a surprising and a worrying development.”

The project marks ICTSI’s entry into Australia, but it already manages 30 port terminals in six continents. Anglo Ports is an Australian company led by Richard Setchell, a former chair and CEO of P&O Ports worldwide.

Industry observers had seen Hutchison Port Holdings, which is part of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Limited, as the frontrunner in the tender.
Hutchison already has terminals in Brisbane and Sydney and adding an operation in Melbourne was seen as a crucial step in giving its Australian business critical mass.

The other other bidders in Melbourne were a consortium of ANL Container Line Pty Ltd and Macquarie Specialised Asset Management Limited , plus Qube Holdings Limited.

Victoria’s Minister for Ports, David Hodgett, said the project meant there would be three stevedores in Melbourne, with the existing operations of Patrick and DP World joined by the new operator.

Mr Hodgett said the winning bidder had addressed the commercial, environmental, community and amenity benchmarks established by the Port of Melbourne Corporation and its expert advisors.

The terminal would handle more than a million standard containers each year and concentrate on promoting off-peak truck movements to improve the efficiency of Victoria’s transport logistics and feed expanding supply chains.

ICTSI said in a statement that the new terminal included a 40-year lease and would give it a “competitive platform” for the development of its Australian business.

The head of ICTISI’s Asia-Pacific operations, Christian R. Gonzalez, said the $550 million project would deliver fully-automated operations from the gate to the quayside.

Work on the new terminal is expected to start later this year and be completed in late 2016, adding some 200 continuing jobs.