LOGISTICS industry groups say they are working with Patrick Terminals over a decision to reduce landside receival and delivery night shifts at its East Swanson Terminal in Melbourne.
Three industry groups – Freight & Trade Alliance, Container Transport Alliance Australia and Australian Peak Shippers Association – said the decision will have “flow-on effects” in the landside container logistics chain.
Patrick announced that from 13 January 2020, night shift operations at its ESD Terminal will be reduced from six nights per week to four nights per week. This represents a 33% reduction in night shift vehicle booking slot availability for Melbourne’s wharf road transport operators.
The night shifts to close are: 22.00 Sunday to 0600 Monday and 23.00 Friday to 0600 Saturday.
Patrick said the changes come as a result of the competitive container stevedoring market in Melbourne, and the general reduction in container volumes at Patrick East Swanson Terminal.
A spokesperson for the company said, “We have had a significant reduction in workload at ESD and need to manage operations accordingly. We have had discussions with industry and will continue to engage to mitigate the inconvenience”.
CTAA director Neil Chambers said, “Many wharf transport operators have adapted their businesses to night shift operations over the years, with the full encouragement of the stevedores”.
“They are now left to deal with their own staffing, rostering and operational issues to adapt to this almost immediate change,” Mr Chambers said.
Mr Chambers said CTAA had a “productive meeting” with Patrick ESD Terminal management on 6 January, to work through the implications on the shift reductions.
Wharf carriers are apprehensive about increased VBS slot and stack run availability on corresponding day shifts to compensate and the extension of export receival cut-offs for vessel schedules that may be impacted. They are also concerned about import container availability times among other factors such as the unique scheduling needs of country carriers.
“I’m pleased to say that there was good collaboration between transport operators and terminal management at the meeting, and we’ve agreed to monitor the situation closely over the coming weeks and reconvene to review,” Mr Chambers said.
The FTA said it was “difficult to reconcile”landside infrastructure charges levied by Patrick Terminals with this reduction in night shift service levels.
“The market anticipates that Patrick will announce further infrastructure fee increases in February for a March 2020 commencement,” FTA’s Paul Zalai said.
FTA, APSA and CTAA have recommended that importers should seek container detention free time extensions from shipping lines for containers handled through Patrick ESD in Melbourne as a result of the reduction in available R&D shifts.