Friday, February 13, 2015

Hanjin Terminating Portland Calls

By Mark Edward Nero

Hanjin Shipping said in a Feb. 10 letter to customers that it is terminating direct call service to the Port of Portland in early March. “However, we will continue to provide services to/from Portland, Oregon and nearby regions via rail and truck transportation to/from Seattle,” the letter said in part.

The revised rotation consists of calls at the ports in the cities of Ningbo, Shanghai, Pusan, Prince Rupert, Seattle, Vancouver, Pusan, Kwangyang and then back to Ningbo. The rotation begins with the arrival of container ship Hanjin Los Angeles at the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan in China on March 9, according to the letter.

The correspondence advises those with questions to contact their Hanjin sales representative for more information. Hanjin leaving Portland could cripple the port’s container movement business: an estimated 80 percent of business at the port’s only container terminal is Hanjin related.

Although no reason was given for the change, the Port of Portland has been struggling with labor issues for years that have drained productivity. Earlier this month, ICTSI Oregon, which operates Terminal 6, the only container terminal at the port, said productivity at the facility has fallen “well below acceptable historical levels.”

ICTSI says that in the last quarter of 2014, ILWU labor was producing only about 13.2 moves per hour, compared to 24.8 moves/hour in May 2012, a roughly 47 percent reduction, according to the terminal operator.

The labor issues are related to a jurisdiction battle between the ILWU, terminal operator and another union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which date back to June. The two unions were fighting over disputed jobs involving the plugging/unplugging and monitoring of refrigerated containers at Terminal 6.

Since then, workers have walked off the job numerous times due to what the longshore union calls “multiple pay disputes and associated grievances” associated with the “mismanagement” of the terminal.

The dispute, which is unrelated to ongoing contract talks between the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association, has led to multiple container ships bypassing the port over the past two-and-an-half years in order to avoid the situation.