Port strike looks imminent in USA


Following the breakdown of talks between the US Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) over the issue of container royalties, exporters sending consignments to the US should be aware that vessels could be severely delayed from 29th December, as US Gulf and East Coast port labour prepare to strike.

Negotiations between the ILA and employers represented by the US Maritime Alliance (USMX) broke down on Tuesday afternoon. Discussions were in regard to container royalties – payments that are made to longshoremen based on the weight of containerised cargo – and the fact that USMX want to cap these payments when the current contract expires on December 29.

Bennie Holland, executive vice president of the ILA, commented that contract discussions have failed and “unless we hear back from them we will be on strike on December 29”.

Exporters should be aware that unless both parties reach an agreement in the coming days, all ports on the US East Coast and Gulf Coast will most likely be shut. The closure is likely to generate congestion at West Coast and Canadian ports as vessels are rerouted.

A full-scale strike affecting all of the major ports on the US East Coast was given a three-month breathing space in September with the ILA and the USMX agreeing to a 90-day contract extension.

The ILA contracts were originally due to expire on September 30, 2012, but this was extended through December 29, 2012.
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