Friday, August 3, 2012

Hanjin to Resume Port of Portland Calls

After a hiatus that has lasted a month so far, the Hanjin shipping company is expected to resume regular calls at the Port of Portland, Oregon starting this weekend.

“We are very pleased to welcome Hanjin’s container service back to Portland,” Sam Ruda, the chief commercial officer for the Port of Portland, said. “The arrival of the Mundra will certainly assist the process of restoring confidence for all industry stakeholders.”

Hanjin Shipping suspended calls at the port in June as a response to an ongoing labor dispute involving two unions, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The conflict goes back to earlier this year, when the ILWU began insisting that its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association requires the terminal operator to hire longshore workers to handle the plugging and unplugging of refrigerated containers at Terminal 6, work that until recently had been performed by the IBEW.

Although the case is still working itself out in the legal system and is anticipated to continue for the next several months, the Hanjin Mundra is expected to arrive at Terminal 6 sometime Sat. Aug. 4.

The labor issues have resulted in fewer vessel calls, affecting the flow of containerized cargo not just at the port, but in the entire region. In June, a noticeable drop in productivity began, which the container operator, ICTSI Oregon, and other stakeholders labeled a work slowdown by the ILWU.

Although the union denied it was engaging in a slowdown, a federal judge in July issued an indefinite injunction banning slowdowns pending the results of an investigation on the matter by the National Labor Relations Board.

Hanjin, which is Portland’s largest international carrier, isn’t the only company to bypass the port in recent weeks. Hapag-Lloyd bypassed Portland twice, but has since resumed its service on a week-to-week basis. Another carrier, Westwood Shipping, has maintained its monthly service to the port.