Tough contract talks loom in October between dockers and eastern US ports

2012 03 09

TOUGH contract talks between maritime employers and eastern North America's International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) are expected after ILA president Harold Daggett spoke of going to "war" with shipping lines that withdrew from the ILA-controlled container chassis scheme.

Some employers see a conflict of interest in that longshoremen not only decide what repair chassis work is needed, but also employ themselves to do the work before they allow equipment to leave the terminals.

"They want to get rid of us in chassis - we'll see about that. We continue to see attacks on our jurisdiction," said Mr Daggett.

"We declare war on this - who gives them the right to say let's get out of chassis; it's in our contracts - it'll put hundreds out of work," he said.

Mr Daggett said the chassis market is vital to protect jobs, so the ILA will not allow carriers to contract out the job of moving chassis to other non-ILA sources, such as pools and truckers.

The master contract between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) for the Atlantic and Gulf ports will expire on September 30.

There are four major hurdles before reaching an agreement, reports London's Containerisation International. They are new technology and automation, jurisdiction, container weights and chassis.

"Automation is going to be the toughest negotiation - if left unchecked it will be a disaster for organised labour. Look at the European ports where we see the devastating effect on labour," he said.

Speaking for the employers, USMX chief executive James Capo said "failure to reach an agreement is not an option and successful negotiations are in the best interests of us and the ILA".

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

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