Patrick proposal causes 'division and disunity' in ATA ranks

Patrick's decision to try and strike agreement with truckers using Port Botany causes a stir at the ATA NSW

Patrick proposal causes 'division and disunity' in ATA ranks
Patrick proposal causes 'division and disunity' in ATA ranks
By Brad Gardner | May 11, 2010

Stevedore Patrick’s proposal to improve efficiency at Port Botany has caused a stir in the ranks of the NSW Australian Trucking Association, leading to a high-level resignation and claims of "division and disunity".

Patrick last week contacted the NSW ATA to seek a legally binding agreement between the stevedore and wharf operators as an alternative to government intervention.

Although Ports and Waterways Minister Paul McLeay last month announced paid waiting times for truckers from the end September this year, a Patrick spokeswoman says some NSW ATA members supported the stevedore’s proposal.

The move prompted long-time industry advocate Mike Moylan (pictured) to step down as the chairman of the NSW ATA’s container section before a meeting of the group yesterday.

He accused some of its members of undermining him and the association because he was telling McLeay and the Sydney Ports Corporation the ATA will support government reform of the port.

"I am not prepared to represent an industry body that isn’t united and [has] members who think they can play both sides of the fence," Moylan tells ATN.

In his resignation letter to the ATA, Moylan writes: "While it is healthy for an industry organisation to encompass a diverse range of views I am unable to continue to work in an environment where there is division and disunity."

Patrick suggested an $80 late payment to trucking operators in 15-minute increments if the average turnaround time exceeds 50 minutes.

Under the proposal, fees will not be paid for being up to 30 minutes late, while trucks which do not show up at the designated time will pay $60.

Patrick will also consider finding alternative time slots for operators if they show up late and will open more booking slots to meet demand if the proposal is accepted.

Under McLeay’s plan, a stevedore will be forced to pay a transport operator $25 for every 15-minute delay, $100 for cancelling slot if it is within two hours of the booking or $50 if it occurs outside of this time.

Trucking operators will also need to pay $50 if they arrive late and $100 for not showing up.

ATA NSW Manager Jill Lewis says the association and individual members did not consider a deal with stevedores.

"To the best of my knowledge it never happened," Lewis says.

"There is no disunity."

Moylan declined to name the group of members he accused of undermining him, only saying: "They’ve been humbled enough".

In his resignation letter, Moylan says stevedores had an opportunity to act sooner and the proposal is a final attempt to stall the introduction of paid waiting times.

"The alternative options are of dubious benefit and we are putting at serious risk our one and only chance to get this right," he writes.

Divisional General Manager of Patrick Container Ports Paul Garaty says he is disappointed the NSW ATA did not agree to its proposal.

He says Patrick will now begin making changes to comply with the impending government regulations.

Lewis says there is "overwhelming support" from ATA members for the NSW Government’s actions.

"They agreed it was not acceptable our drivers currently have to sit and wait for up to six hours to receive service. It’s bad business, it’s a waste of resources and it’s grossly unfair to the drivers," Lewis says.

The ATA NSW is also trying to get empty container parks to extend their operating hours.

"At present, carriers have to take empty containers to the port during standard business hours, which just adds to the traffic problems around the port during the working week," she says.

Moylan says there was "vigorous and healthy debate" during yesterday’s meeting and that members agreed to re-focus on supporting McLeay's plan.

Patrick has opposed the introduction of paid waiting times, labelling it a new tax which will not improve efficiency.

Garaty says trucks turning up late to collect or deliver goods will be turned back onto Sydney roads, leading to increased costs to the supply chain and NSW residents.

Despite his resignation, Moylan says he will remain a member of the ATA and give the group and Lewis his full support.

Moylan has spent 15 years lobbying for the industry, first as part of the NSW Road Transport Association and then the ATA.

He says unity has traditionally been the association’s strength, adding that his decision to step aside will also give other people the opportunity to contribute.

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