Industrial Action Lifted at DP World Port Botany Terminal

By Margaret Bux
clock 4 min

After bargaining for almost two years, with on and off industrial action, DP World Australia lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on Tuesday 15th September, to have industrial action at Port Botany terminal terminated on negative economic grounds.  The DP World application was due to be heard by the FWC on Saturday 19th September at 2.00 pm, however the industrial action was withdrawn before the hearing, effective immediately.  The union has also confirmed that it will not be taking any industrial action of any kind at the Port Botany terminal before 1 November. 

Importers have been bearing the flow-on effects of severe berth and terminal congestion in Port Botany, those with cargo discharged in Sydney subject to congestion surcharges from major international shipping lines of up to USD 300 per 20 foot container.  As reported by the Freight and Trade Alliance “once cargo has been received, importers have then been faced with the difficulty of returning the empty containers to a shipping line contracted and nominated depot.  With the failure of shipping lines to evacuate surplus empty containers, Sydney’s depots are at capacity and transport operators have been passing on costs for re-directions, waiting times, futile trips and storage of containers.”

According to Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), “empty container parks in Sydney are either closed due to capacity being reached or operating at a trickle given that empties are not being evacuated to any acceptable level through Port Botany.  The backlog of import containers piled up in NSW is approx. 30,000 TEU”.  This massive backlog of empty containers which are stuck in empty container parks, transport yards and shippers’ premises will now have to be dealt with.  It is anticipated that congestion will only be truly eased when industrial actions at all of the stevedore terminals cease. 

Furthermore, vessels have been by-passing Port Botany by discharging containers in Melbourne or Brisbane forcing importers to transport goods to Sydney and return the empty container back to the port of discharge at their own expense.  So on top of the usual Melbourne destined containers, the Melbourne container logistics chain of shippers, freight forwarders and transport operators will need to deal with the Sydney containers discharged in Melbourne. CTAA is also urging the Victorian Government to amend the warehousing workforce restrictions under COVID Stage 4 in metro Melbourne to take this into account. 

Not only importers but exporters have also been facing a severe reduction in available capacity and irregular services, seriously affecting their ability to meet overseas contracts.  The types of industries that have been affected are meat, grain and cotton farming.  Currently vessel schedule delays are up to 10 days due to congestion.

As reported by CTAA industrial actions also continue to threaten terminal operations in Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. 


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