Wednesday week [February 6] in theory marks the last day of the extended US east coast dock labour contract talks; it will coincide with one of the busiest periods for the 15 container ports from Boston to Huston ahead of the Chinese new year factory shutdowns.
The port employers represented by the Unites States Maritime Alliance [USMX] are still locking horns with the International Longshoremen’s Association [ILA] over the detail of a new six-year agreement.
While there is no ‘white smoke’ to date the talks are said to have ‘made progress’ with the contentious issue of container royalties apparently resolved, but US federal mediator George Cohen admits that ‘tough negotiations’ remain.
The obstacles could centre around changes in working practices that the USMX say are fundamental to the deal. Indeed, prior to the resumption of negotiations ILA representatives walked out on local New York – New Jersey contract talks over work practice issues.
Analysts expect that Asia – USEC ship utilisation levels will be nudging 95% in the next three to four weeks ahead of the CNY making a new deal or at least a further extension of contract discussions vital.
Mike Wackett | Jan. 28, 2013