Govt threatens fines as port negotiations break down


NSW Government threatens to introduce regulations that would impose fines on Port Botany stevedores for poor performance

Govt threatens fines as port negotiations break down
SPC says fining stevedores “is only fair”

By Samantha Freestone | April 13, 2010

The NSW Government is threatening to introduce regulations that would impose fines on Port Botany stevedores for poor performance as a result of a break down in negotiations over a voluntary performance management system.

A Sydney Ports Corporation (SPC) told ATN recently that it has been waiting since September 2009 for the stevedores to commit to a process to address delays at the port, whereby stevedores and transport operators pay penalties if they fail to meet agreed performance benchmarks under the Operational Performance Management (OPM) framework.

An SPC spokesperson told ATN today that the port corporation has requested "on numerous occasions" Patrick commit to the introduction of the OPM in order to establish "reciprocal penalties" for all parties.

In February SPC sent Patrick an initial agreement followed by a letter on April 1 urging it to adopt the measures.

"Sydney Ports has consistently indicated since last year that the OPM measures would need to be introduced before any demand management system was introduced," the spokesperson says.

"Currently trucking operators are the only party being penalised.

"The Sydney Ports CEO, along with the Minister for Ports and Waterways, has consistently said that unless the stevedores introduce the OPM measures voluntarily, they will be introduced through regulation and therefore stevedores will pay penalties to road operators for poor performance."

A spokesperson from Patrick says it is in "discussions" with the Australian Trucking Association’s NSW branch on a possible "industry focussed agreement" after the stevedore refused to commit to the agreement on the table.

"We were unable to commit to the operational performance measures that Sydney Ports had offered to us," the spokesperson says.

"There were a number of measures which addressed when a truck arrives early, whether we would pay money to the driver or if we were running late on the land side."

A lack of infrastructure and chain-of-responsibility concerns were among Patrick’s reasoning’s for rejecting the voluntary agreement, the spokesperson says.

"We have corresponded with SPC since then, in late February, and they indicated that given our position, they would need to look into regulation," the spokesperson says.

"We don’t believe the SPC operational performance indicators take into consideration the whole supply chain."

Mike Moylan, a port carrier and chairman of the ATA NSW’s Container Group, says the association has yet to begin firm negotiations with stevedores.

"Today we have four-hour delays at DP World so I think something needs to happen," he says.

"We understand the position to be that the Government asked for a voluntary agreement. They obviously haven’t gotten very far.

"We have had a number of meetings with them as we do with both stevedores but there is certainly no negotiations taking place."

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