Trucking anger surges in lead-up to PBLIS charges

Early moves on charging sparks talk of direct action

By Rob McKay | February 10, 2011

Trucking industry anger and frustration at Port Botany stevedores could lead to direct action in the lead-up to anti-congestion measures.

Unconfirmed reports state that certain elements amongst those servicing DP World’s terminal had met late last week to discuss bringing it to a halt.

Asked about the possibility of such action, ATA NSW Container Section Chairman Mike Moylan said that, if confirmed, it would be symptomatic of a growing fury with and loss of confidence over "in good faith" negotiations with the stevedores.

"We now have a situation where our membership is ropeable," Moylan said today.

"We’ve had a gutful of holding out the olive branch and being belted up with it."

The heat is focused on a unilateral decision by Patrick Stevedores last month to bring in "no show" charges if carriers are deemed to have missed their slot more than a month before the Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy (PBLIS) performance management scheme
commences at the end of February.

Patrick’s position was replicated by DP World, coming into effect yesterday.

Compounding the sense of grievance was that, along with the $100 charge, trucks would be sent away without their loads, Moylan said.

He was highly critical of DP World, given that it had sought flexibility from carriers during mechanical breakdowns last week and yesterday but had refused to apply any flexibility regarding its new measures in return.

A stiff letter to Sydney Ports Corporation had elicited a pledge from SPC Chief Executive Grant Gilfillan to write to the DP World requesting that it reconsiders their changes.

Gilfillan had stated that SPC would take "very seriously" if carriers were penalised for being late due to queues caused by the stevedore’s own operational problems.

As of yesterday at DP World, under its new regime, ATA NSW members had seen truck turnaround times improve from more than two hours during last week’s equipment problems.

However, only 25 percent were being serviced in 50 minutes and some had waited two and a half hours.

For its part, though this is not accepted by ATA NSW, Patrick believes it has always been able to charge for no-shows under the Vehicle Booking Scheme contract and that it was merely enforcing that now.

A Patrick spokeswoman said the stevedore was still yet to get a clear idea of what the new regulations meant, suggesting that they were being recast by the NSW Government.

ATN was awaiting a DP World response at deadline today.

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