Please find below an update on the DP World Industrial Action issued by Container Transport Alliance Australia Pty Ltd.
The industrial action is affecting the DP World terminals in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle and as a flow on effect is having a major impact for transport companies, importers, exporters and the general public with delays in goods, increased pricing, etc.
CTAA has received an update from DP World on further Protected Industrial Action (PIAs) formally advised by the CFMMEU - MUA Division through to 4 December 2023.
The PIAs continue the pattern of work-related bans (shift extensions and overtime bans, etc.), bans on working vessels, one to two hour closures each day across different time zones, plus 24-hour bans on loading or unloading trucks or trains on nominated days.
Significant Detrimental Landside Logistics Impacts:
As CTAA Alliance companies know only too well, DPWA is finding it extremely difficult to recover from the recent cyber-attack shutdown at each of its Terminals due to the debilitating impact of the landside work stoppages and 24hr work bans.
One of the worst impacts from a road transport perspective is committing heavy vehicle assets to time zones (day and night shifts, and on weekends, at added labour cost expense), only to find that trucks are “locked out” even ahead of the notified PIA work stoppage times or are directed to leave the Terminal as a “non-service” before the work bans commence. The DPWA workforce is also not taking spilt “smoko” breaks or staggered shift changeovers, further inflaming poor truck servicing performances.
This means that in many instances transport operators are getting one or less “turns” of their fleet assets in a shift and are falling well short of their planned import pick-up and export drop-off tasks.
The situation is unsustainable from a landside logistics perspective, and many transport companies (individually) have implemented congestion surcharges, truck waiting time fees or “futile trip” charges in consultation with their customers.
Noone wants to see these charges implemented, and transport operators would prefer not to have to take such individual commercial decisions. But, the current situation is placing significant financial burdens on transport operators, threatening their viability.
DPWA Invoicing & Billing Processes:
DPWA’s billing & invoicing processes have yet to be recovered since the cyber-attack.
DPWA has been informing landside stakeholders, including the forwarder and shipper customers of transport operators (despite DPWA not having a direct commercial relationship with many of those stakeholders), that VBS-related penalties such as “no-shows” and wrong time zone fees are being waived.
CTAA Alliance companies have also pointed out that import free time availability for some vessels as advertised through vessel schedules don’t give the full 3-days of availability due to the terminal 24hr closures and the one / two- hour stoppages three times per every 24 hours. So, there is a question-mark over potential storage charges disputes.
There is genuine concern that when billing recommences, charges may be incorrectly applied. Transport operators will be faced with a significant administrative burden in reconciling DPWA invoices once they begin to be received again.
Transport operators will need to be vigilant that Terminal Access Fees (TACs), Energy Charges, and other landside fees, aren’t incorrectly charged when there has been a truck non-service or slots have been cancelled. This would amount to “double-dipping” if that does materialise. Also, we will only know whether “no-shows” and wrong zone fees have indeed been waived once the invoices are received.
DPWA / MUA Enterprise Negotiations:
CTAA provided an Update on Thursday, 16 November that DPWA had made the unilateral decision to alter its workforce rostering arrangements (under the terms of existing Enterprise Agreement). This is one of the matters faced in the impasse in the current EA negotiations.
CTAA understands that in parallel, the CFMMEU (MUA Division) made an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) under section 240 of the Fair Work Act seeking for the FWC to deal with the bargaining dispute.
We further understand that this application has led to a FWC Commissioner being assigned to deal with the dispute, and that agreement has been reached to convene further EA negotiations from 4 to 9
December 2023 (to be held among the bargaining parties in WA).
CTAA has not withdrawn its right to continue with Protected Industrial Actions (PIAs). However, there is precedent under S.240 applications that provided genuine negotiations proceed, the FWC may likely order a suspension of PIAs while the negotiations continue.
It is hoped that this development provides the “circuit breaker” needed for the bargaining parties to return to and then remain at the negotiation table to make progress towards reaching a final agreement.
CTAA will keep our Alliance companies informed as we receive further information and intelligence.