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Call for shipping container detention fee relief as strike bites

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Ship lines urged to inject flexibility into system facing DP World Australia interruption

Call for shipping container detention fee relief as strike bites
DPWA terminals are facing industrial action
Port users and commerce services providers have linked in a united call to container shipping lines to provide container detention relief in the face of port disruption.

In a joint statement, Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA), the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and the Container Transport Alliance of Australia (CTAA) have made the plea in relation to escalating industrial action at DP World Australia (DPWA) terminals.

The trio points out that the DPWA Enterprise Agreement (EA) expired on February 28, with no public sign that DPWA is any closer to finalising a new agreement through negotiations with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

Protected industrial action is now underway, resulting in escalating stoppages this week at DPWA terminals in Brisbane, Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne.

These stoppages are expected to result in containers being stranded in DPWA terminals nationally, attracting fees for late returns on those nominally in control of them.

"While DPWA has previously made efforts to reduce the impact on Australian shippers, by extending import availability times, waiving storage and sub-contracting vessels, shipping lines also need to be sympathetic in considering financial relief at the end of the container logistics chain through the waiver of container detention fees." FTA director Travis Brooks-Garrett says.

FTA/CTAA/APSA are calling on the shipping lines to extend free time on container detention for all containers effected by the escalating dispute and to waive associated charges.

"Shipping lines need to do more to protect their customers," CTAA director Neil Chambers says.

"This is not business as usual. This is a real test of how shipping lines treat their customers locally.

"Stevedore partners are appointed by the shipping lines, not the shippers or transport operators.

"Shipping lines cannot wipe their hands of accountability, they are a party to the current disruption and need to play a role in minimising the impact to their shippers and reducing associated costs.

"If import containers are held up in DPWA terminals and the shipping lines maintain their strict detention free timeframes, there will be little physical chance for the containers to be processed through the landside supply chain and be returned empty to the designated location in the time allocated."

"Transport operators certainly will not be accepting unrealistic container return timeframes, leaving importers exposed to potentially significant detention penalties, unless shipping lines change their policies in these exceptional circumstances."

Brooks-Garrett notes that the three bodies will update the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on "how the shipping lines are responding to these exceptional circumstances locally".

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