Saturday, March 12, 2016

Container Freight Activity Due to Stop as Port Strike Called

Tuesday Will See Shipside Activity Cease
Shipping News Feature
UK – A strike has been called by the Unite trade union at Scotland’s busiest port, Grangemouth, and is due to commence at 00:01 hours on Tuesday 15 March. The action comes after a change to shift patterns at the port by owner Forth Ports. The stoppage will affect shipside operations with no freight activity at the container terminal for an initial period of two weeks according to sources at the union.

After a ballot of around 75 workers, including crane drivers, a decision was made to cease work as the union claim the changes to shift patterns effectively translates to a cut in pay. The planned strike will not affect landside operations with import containers still available for collection and non-containerised cargo and warehousing activities will proceed as normal. Engineers on site are not involved in the dispute which centres around the new working conditions due to commence from 3 April.

A spokesman for the Port of Grangemouth said:

“The strike action at the Port of Grangemouth proposed by Unite the union is unjustified.We are proposing alterations to shift patterns in response to the changing needs of our customers, whose vessels call at the port seven days a week. Our staff and their union accepted the need for such flexibility, and that shift patterns may require to change in the future, when this element of their employment contracts was agreed in 2011.

“With regret, as a consequence of the proposed strike, we have decided to close the port’s quayside container operations from midnight on Monday 14th March as this strike action would prevent us from being able to serve the needs of our customers efficiently. All other operations at the port will remain open.We sincerely hope that our staff, and their union, will cancel this strike and work with us to implement the changes necessary to enable the Port of Grangemouth to meet the changing demands of our customers.”

Grangemouth handles in excess of 9 million tonnes of dry cargo annually with 150,000 TEU passing through, mostly via feeder transhipments from Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Felixstowe. This feeder traffic is key to the port’s activities as it is the only UK facility of its kind which exports more than it imports handling in excess of 30% of Scotland’s GDP every year.