Logistics News

More coronavirus disruption in the offing for ports

MUA raises alarm at ships arriving within 14 days of departing previous call


The likelihood of more coronavirus-linked disruption at the nation’s ports seems assured as the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) digs it heels in over ships that have left Asian ports less than 14 days ago.  

Such industrial action often has impacts through transport and the supply chain.

The union has identified three ships due in Darwin port this week, after having stopped work at stevedore DP World Australia’s (DPWA’s) Melbourne terminal over the issue.

The union claims the containership Xin Da Lian left Taiwan on March 19 but DPWA says it left Shanghai on March 17.

Ship tracking service vesselfinder.com has the ship leaving Shanghai early March 16 and arriving in Taiwan’s main port of Kaohsiung on March 18.

Similar website myshiptracking.com has the ship arriving at Kaohsiung on March 18 and departing that port on March 19.

Subsequently, DPWA reports Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Department of Health (DoH) released advice “re-emphasising the precautionary and self-isolation measures in place to protect Australian maritime borders from the risk of coronavirus imported from international commercial crew. 

“The ABF advice reconfirms that commercial marine vessels can be stevedored inside 14 days provided crew maintains self-isolation in accordance with their guidelines.”

Earlier, DPWA describes the Melbourne action over the Xin Da Lian as due to “unfounded safety concerns”.

“The vessel had been cleared to berth at DP World Melbourne by the Australian Border Force who is responsible for all border clearance processes in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Biosecurity,” chief operating officer Andrew Adam says in a statement.

“The directions are very clear, and we don’t make the rules, these are defined by Australian Border Force (ABF).

“Any crew members aboard a vessel that has been to mainland China, must have been at sea for 14 days before they are allowed to dock in Australia.

“The vessel left Shanghai in China on March 17 and arrived in Melbourne on March 31, meaning it was at sea for 14 days.

“The union is not allowed to unilaterally declare a vessel unsafe: they are not allowed to create their own set of rules.”

“At all times, our priority is to keep trade flowing, and maintain the health and safety of our employees and our operations. DP World conducts rigorous safety processes on every vessel that visit our terminals.

“DP World’s Covid-19 response focuses on how to keep our ports and terminals operational, and this is achieved by prioritising safety.”

“Using Covid -19 related-safety concerns does a disservice to the Australian public, who rely on trade and goods from our ports during these challenging times, and have genuine fear over their wellbeing and safety as a result of this global pandemic.

“DP World is working resolutely to protect our people and the communities in which we operate, and to keep trade flowing including food, medicines and other vital supplies during the unprecedented challenges faced by Covid-19.”

Workers involved in the matter were stood down by DP World Melbourne management after refusing to work the ship.



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