At least 15 ships were delayed at the Port of Adelaide due to nationwide strikes on board Svitzer Australia’s tugs that continued this week, South Australia’s port operator Flinders Ports said.
The work stoppages from yesterday prevented five ships from entering or leaving South Australia’s largest port whereas a previous 24 hour stoppage on Saturday impacted 10 vessels carrying millions of dollars of freight, in an ongoing dispute between Svitzer Australia and the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE).
The strikes, which affect all coal carriers, fuel carriers, car importers and bulk container vessels entering port, are being staged by the union amid tug crews’ disagreement with Svitzer’s proposed industrial contract which would force three-person crews, consisting of a skipper, a deckhand and an engineer, under a single industrial agreement.
“We have managed to avoid having a regular container ship service diverted to another port and customers incurring higher freight charges. Our marine operations team has been in constant contact with shipping lines and agents, and this vessel will reduce her speed at sea to push back her arrival at Port Adelaide to Wednesday,” said Vincent Tremaine, Chief Executive Officer of Flinders Port Holdings.
All ships which could not enter the port during the previous strike on Saturday, including two container ships, were brought into Port Adelaide on Sunday, Flinders Ports added.
Flinders Ports tried to unload the ships so that they could leave before the next round of tug stoppages on Tuesday. However, two bulk carriers were not be able to turn-around in the required timeframe.
“This is because these bulk cargoes take longer to unload and one of the ships needs a high tide to sail, which occurs on Tuesday, during the strike action. The departure of this ship will be delayed until later in the week, when high tide conditions return to the port,” the port operator added.
With potentially two bulk carriers stuck in the port until later this week, Flinders Ports is concerned about the available berth space to accommodate other ships that were forced to wait out at sea on Tuesday and enter the port on Wednesday.
“Our marine operations specialists are looking at options to free up berth space for the ships hit by strike action. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of the tug dispute on our customers and the wider South Australian community,” said Tremaine.
In 2015, around 14.6 million tonnes of cargo including 296,402 containers moved through Port Adelaide. It is South Australia’s busiest port and handles most of the state’s key exports.
Flinders Ports operates seven ports located at Port Adelaide, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Thevenard, Port Giles, Wallaroo and Klein Point.