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17th February 2019

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Containers

Ports of Auckland goes driverless to boost container numbers

In the high-tech equivalent of “look Mum, no hands,” Ports of Auckland’s new 70-tonne straddle carriers will hurtle around at up to 22km/h, without anyone at the controls.

This Luddite’s nightmare means no human contact with the container from the time the truck driver unscrews his twist locks to just before it is hoisted by crane and deposited on a ship. For imports, it will be the same process, only in reverse.

As the port sees it, public opinion is against expansion through further reclamation, so the only way to improve productivity is through technology.

The system is now being tested, with empty containers stacked high to act as a barrier in case something goes wrong.

And something going wrong doesn’t really bear thinking about: fully laden, the port’s new carriers weigh in at 100 tonnes – not easy to stop in a hurry.

When the project is complete, the port’s 27 new blue carriers will be involved in an elaborate dance to get containers on and off ships, with the process controlled by software at head office.

“It feels funny when you see this giant machine coming straight towards you,” says the port’s automation project manager, Ross Clarke.

The Auckland Council-owned port is under pressure from New Zealand First to relocate to Whangārei, and the Government is conducting a comprehensive upper North Island logistics and freight review to ensure New Zealand’s supply chain is fit for purpose in the longer term.

The review will guide the development and delivery of a freight and logistics strategy for the upper North Island. This includes a feasibility study to explore moving the location of Ports of Auckland, with consideration to be given to Northport.

Clarke says the new straddle carrier technology, alongside the port’s three new cranes that arrived last year from China, is seen as a game changer.Can we resuscitate our struggling sharemarket?

Automation will increase its terminal capacity from just over 900,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent units) a year to 1.6-1.7 million, the port says.

Auckland will be the first New Zealand port to partially automate its container terminal.

At the same time, the port says the straddle carriers will save as much as 10 per cent on fuel use. There should also be less impact on neighbouring communities as they will require less light and will not make as much noise as conventional, manned carriers.

The new Konecrane carriers will deliver more capacity because they can stack four containers compared to just three for the existing carriers. This, combined with changes to the terminal layout and past reclamation work, is expected to increase capacity by 80 per cent.

They come with a positioning system called Locator – a type of ground-based GPS that boasts an accuracy of plus or minus 3cm.

Clarke says that given its constrained area, something had to be done to grow the port.

Auckland's new automated straddle carriers can stack containers four high. Photo / Leon Menzies
Auckland’s new automated straddle carriers can stack containers four high. Photo / Leon Menzies

“If we didn’t do something to increase that capacity then the business’s throughput, and therefore revenue and profit, would be capped.

“We can’t expand the footprint of the terminal – the public have been clear about that,” he says.

“Dwell times” – the time it takes for exports inside terminal gates to be loaded onto a ship and imports onto a truck or train – are already low by world standards.

“So the only other avenue to increase the storage capacity is to stack more densely and we are going up with automated machines.”

Automation means stevedoring roles will go, but Clarke says the number of jobs lost is likely to be less than the original estimate of 50.

“The chances are that with the new cranes, and the increased throughput, the reduction in jobs might not be that much at all,” he says.

“Implementing automation helps fund the investment in the new technology. Reducing jobs was never the ambition – it’s just an outcome.”

Clarke says the port has trouble recruiting enough staff to deal with current demand, and there are vacancies it can’t fill.

“With the business growing, and the number of unfilled jobs that we have at the moment, the actual level of redundancies might be quite small.”

The high-tech carriers will initially work with the port’s new, $60 million, 82.3m high cranes which weigh in at 2100 tonnes apiece, against 1200 and 1300 tonnes for the older cranes.

The port says that with these new cranes, and the new deepwater berth they will sit alongside, the port will be able to handle the biggest ships coming to these shores.

They can lift four containers at once, weighing up to 130 tonnes combined, a New Zealand first. The current cranes can lift two containers, weighing up to 65 tonnes.

The new cranes can service ships carrying more than 11,000 TEU, which the port expects will offer some “future-proofing” against increases in the size of ships.

Ports of Auckland is only the second port in the world to automate as a “brownfields” development – most automated ports are built from scratch.

Clarke says maintaining the port’s day-to-day operations while the project is underway has been a big challenge.

Initially the northern third of the terminal – where the new cranes are – will be automated while the southern part will continue with manned straddle carriers.

Once it is satisfied that the technology is working to plan, the port company will complete the rollout for the rest of the terminal.

The first stage goes live in February next year, followed by the second stage in April.

Clarke says that by the middle of 2020, the port should have a fully operational automated container terminal.

NZ Herald

KiwiRail pleased with early Northland studies

KiwiRail says it is pleased with work undertaken to date on a potential extension of its rail network to Northport at Marsden Point.

The firm began geotechnical work in late October on a route for a 20-kilometre spur line from Oakleigh, running east toward Marsden Point.

The final drilling was completed today and further exploration work will continue this year, acting chief executive Todd Moyle said in a statement.

“Our investigations have focused on areas where the most significant engineering works would be needed,” he said.

“Concurrently we are looking at how we can upgrade the North Auckland Line between Auckland and Oakleigh. The tunnels on that line are old, low and narrow. We have had two significant derailments on the line in recent months due to a lack of funding for maintenance. It has been unable to carry passengers for the past year and freight options are restricted.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones visited the drilling site today.

New Zealand First has driven an investigation into the feasibility of relocating Ports of Auckland to Northport. That is being considered by a five-member working group tasked with developing a broader strategy to better integrate transport logistics chains in the upper North Island.

The cost of the new spur line was estimated at $100 million a decade ago. Bringing the Auckland to Northland line up to standard to handle major freight volumes has previously been estimated at more than $2 billion.

Jones, a list MP, lives in Northland and is a fan of rail. Tourism and freight projects of state-owned KiwiRail have so far received close to $90 million from the Provincial Growth Fund he oversees, including funding for the Northland spur study.

KiwiRail chair Greg Miller says significant agricultural and horticultural investment going into Northland will require an efficient supply chain.

The Provincial Growth Fund will allow a renewal of regional rail and there is a growing acceptance of the wider benefits rail brings by taking trucks off roads, reducing road maintenance costs and improving road safety, he says.

“There is a long way to go in Northland but we are heartened by what we have found so far.”

“Mediocre” Performance Stifles Global Ports

Global major terminal operators maintained a throughput of 41.69m teus in Q3 2018, but the “growth rate of the global terminal operators fell further to 5.8%, the lowest in the past two years,” a new report shows.

The Shanghai International Shipping Institute’s ‘Global Port Development Report of Q3 2018’ found global terminal operators had a “mediocre” performance in Q3 and Chinese and US ports in particular have suffered as a result of the US-China trade war.

The report confirms that “the escalating Sino-US trade war and shipping alliances’ trim or shutdown of liners and control on shipping space hindered the growth of the container shipping market.”

Container throughout down

Cargo throughput in the world’s major ports in Q3 2018 is up 7.4% year-on-year, but the growth rate of container throughput has declined, showed the report.

Cargo throughput rose to over 3.01bn tonnes in Q3 2018, but container throughout fared less well with 92.57m teus of containers handled, merely increasing 2.7% year-on-year.

Performance in production suffered as the escalating China-US trade friction ripped over to products suitable for container shipping, such as small-sized equipment and white goods.

Among the US ports, the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of Long Beach were most affected. The import and export volumes of major products hit by the tariff all fell to various extents, and the cargo throughput of these two ports dropped 1.9% and 3.4% year-on-year, respectively.

Of the Chinese ports, Shenzhen Port has the highest proportion of container throughput for the China-US shipping routes, which accounts for 27% of its overall container throughput. The trade war will dampen its business related to the international shipping routes by 4.5%, stated the report.

As trade friction continued to escalate, the throughput of Shenzhen Port fell 2.6% year-on-year to 6.9 million teus; with slow growth in exports and a withering container volume transferring to China and exporting to the US, the port saw its container throughput plunge 10.4% year-on-year to 4.82m teus.

Other issues which impacted growth and performance included increasingly strict environmental protection policies and a downward trend in global dry bulk cargo throughput.
Source: Port Strategy

An aerial view of Ports of Auckland from the west.
SUPPLIED
An aerial view of Ports of Auckland from the west.

A rift has opened up between Auckland Council and the Government over how the future of the city’s port will be decided.

Mayor Phil Goff says there’s a risk that a Government-appointed working group looking at the upper North Island ports might have pre-determined whether Auckland’s council-owned port could move, and if so where.

Goff said he put a “robust” view to the working group’s chair, former Far North mayor Wayne Brown, in a private meeting last week.

A council commissioned study found shifting the vehicle import trade, could lose Auckland $1 billion
BEVAN READ/STUFF
A council commissioned study found shifting the vehicle import trade, could lose Auckland $1 billion

He said Brown’s public rejection of two potential locations identified by a council study didn’t give confidence, and the group didn’t appear to have enough time or resources to do a proper job.

The council on Tuesday approved a blunt letter to be sent to Brown, ahead of the council’s first formal meeting with the working group in just over a fortnight.

Goff favoured the eventual shift of the port from its current location on the downtown waterfront, but was unhappy with the approach being taken by the working group.

The council will tell the group that its priorities include protecting the value of Ports of Auckland, which last year paid it a $51.1 million dividend.

It is also telling the working group it wants a transparent, objective and evidence-based approach to reviewing the future of the ports in Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei.

Auckland Council has conducted the most detailed work so far on the future of its port.

Previous mayor Len Brown funded out of his office budget the Port Future Study, which in 2016 found the port might not outgrow its current site in 50 years, but that work should begin on identifying alternatives, in case it did.

Before the 2017 elections New Zealand First advocated an early shift of the vehicle-import trade from Auckland to Northland’s port.

The coalition government including New Zealand First took a bigger picture approach, setting up the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group, in line with a request from Auckland Council.

New Zealand First MP and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones who oversees the working group, has since been vocal on matters relating to the future of Auckland’s port.

At the start of November Jones said he would do all he could to head-off a planned multi-storey carpark building planned by Ports of Auckland, to house vehicles arriving in the port.

“Public statements have created the impression of pre-determination,” said the council in a letter to the chair of the working group Wayne Brown.

Brown has made public comment favouring a move to Northland, including an opinion column published in November 2017 before being appointed to chair the group.

“Imagine the Auckland waterfront without used cars getting the best views,” Brown wrote.

“Watch for self-justifying job-saving promises from Ports of Auckland to fend off any sensible moves like Sydney has made keeping the harbour just for cruise liners and sending cargo to Wollongong and Newcastle.”

The council’s letter pointed to comments by Brown.

“Indicating a strong preference for relocation of some or all of POAL activities to Northport prior to any analysis is unhelpful,” said the letter which Goff will sign.

“Any plans to move all or some of the Port’s functions requires the concurrence of its owners, the people of Auckland, through Auckland Council,” said the letter.

“I’ve already said to the chair, we’ve put a lot of work into two future options (Manukau Harbour and Firth of Thames) and you’ve dismissed this out of hand, which gives us no confidence,” Goff told today’s planning committee meeting.

The council has spelled out 10 areas it wants the working group to examine closely.

These include the feasible capacity of all upper North Island ports, as well as the climate change impacts of moving freight to and from the ports.

It wanted work done on the social and community impacts of any change, and how and when a future new port would be funded.

The council will have its first meeting with the government’s working group on December 13.

 

Automation and capacity update from Ports of Auckland

22 November 2018

Operational Update

Automation and Capacity Project – Update

Our project to transform Fergusson Terminal which will provide future capacity is well underway and visitors to the port will have seen a lot of activity and changes including civil works, construction workers and sections of tarmac undergoing renewal.  What has been happening recently:

A-Strads

Visitors will have seen the new blue “A Strads” now assembled on the north end of the terminal, undergoing a comprehensive range of testing in readiness for Go-Live next year.

 

 

 

 

Road Exchange

The work to upgrade the truck lanes has been completed and the next stage is installing the gates and fences required to keep truck drivers and A Strads separated.

Pre-gate Kiosk Screens

These have been updated. Drivers now need to complete some additional steps at the kiosk.  This means that when automation goes live, the drivers will already be familiar with the new system.

Reefer Gantries

The large shiny frames of the new reefer gantries at the southern end of the Fergusson terminal are now complete and sign-off for the reefer operation is expected before the end of this year.  In the meantime, we have been able to use the area as valuable stacking space for dry containers.

New Container Cranes

There was a lot of media interest and celebration with the arrival of our three new container cranes on the specialised delivery vessel Zhen Hua 25.

It was a great sight to see them sail into the harbour in the early morning. These cranes, which have quad-lift capacity (they can lift four containers at once), are now in place on Fergusson North Berth and will be commissioned early 2019, after a range of testing required to integrate them into our current systems.

 

Hatch Platforms have now been installed on all container cranes – these allow the ship’s hatch covers to be stored above the ground, freeing up space around the cranes for container handling.

Lash Platforms In a first for New Zealand, we’re installing lash platforms on all our cranes and our new cranes have them already fitted.  This will make stevedores’ job safer, as they can work above ground away from moving straddles.

Rail OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

A frame, fitted with multiple cameras, has been placed over the rail line to capture images and recognise container numbers arriving and leaving by rail. This system provides a high degree of accuracy and enables rail planners to quickly check on any “exceptions”.

Supply Chain Challenges

There are a range of challenges being experienced throughout the supply chain. We are automating Fergusson Terminal to increase capacity and productivity, whilst at the same time experiencing unprecedented volume demand. It is a bit like having heart surgery while playing rugby!

While we’re carrying out the automation work our terminal capacity is actually reduced, putting pressure on our operations especially during peak import season.

We are undertaking this transformation to ensure we are ready to accommodate Auckland’s rapid growth in freight demand.  We’ll be able to handle more containers on the same land, but it also means some changes in the way cargo owners and trucking companies interact with the port.

Greater planning and different ways of operating are needed throughout the freight supply chain. The port operates 24/7 and yet the wider supply chain largely works 24/5 at best, and often 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

Extended operational hours are needed at distribution centres, empty depots and importers’ and exporters’ premises to maximise the capacity of the whole supply chain.  It is much the same as an internet connection – you’re currently on dial-up and want to upgrade to fibre, but you only get the best speed if you’ve got fibre end-to-end.

We have been engaging with importers, exporters, trucking companies and freight forwarders to discuss the changes and welcome you to make contact to discuss any issues you may have.

Further Progress

Our automation go-live date is late 2019.  There are a number of civil, operational, engineering and I.T. projects being undertaken, some of which need to be completed in a specific order and others are more flexible.  This means that we are continually adjusting the timing of work.  We will keep you updated on progress and changes.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss any ideas or concerns, at any stage.

For more information contact

Customer Service

P: +64 9 348 5100 Ext. 1

E: customerservice@poal.co.nz

 

For VBS queries contact

Transport Co-ordinators

P: +64 9 348 5100 Ext.2

E: driversassist@poal.co.nz

 

 

Ports of Auckland have joined the Climate Leaders Coalitiona collection of business leaders who have each committed to act on climate change.

Ports of Auckland is the first port in the world to make this commitment and the first port in New Zealand to be CEMARS® certified. Joining the coalition contributes to the ports promise to become zero emissions by 2040.

More information on the Climate Leaders Coalition can be found here. Read the CEO Climate Change Statement here.

 

Ports of Auckland net profit rises 27 per cent

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson. Photo / File
Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson. Photo / File

Ports of Auckland reported a 27 per cent lift in net profit, boosted by some one-off gains and a full year of revenue from its Nexus Logistics and Conlinxx units.

Reported net profit for the year to June 30 was $76.8 million, up from $60.3m the year before. But that included $17.6m for items related to asset valuation changes and impairments, compared to $5.3m in the 2017 year.

Ports of Auckland will pay a dividend of $51.1m to the Auckland Council, slightly down from $51.3m the year before.

Group revenue was $243.2m, up $20.8m. Freight volumes increased and the port benefited from buying out its joint venture partner in Nexus Logistics in May 2017. That brought Conlinxx, which manages Ports of Auckland’s Wiri inland port, back under its control.

The country’s largest port said that container volumes were up 2.2 per cent to the equivalent of 973,722 twenty-foot units, while breakbulk and bulk volumes were up 4.8 per cent to 6.77 million tonnes. The container terminal team delivered an average crane rate of 35.63 moves an hour this year, nearly one move per hour more than in the previous year.

The company said significant progress has been made on the automation of its container terminal, due to go live in the second half of the 2019 calendar year.

It has also completed earth works at the Waikato Freight Hub and started construction of the first freight handling facility for Open Country Dairy.

Road and rail connections will be built during the next 12 months and the hub will open for business by mid-2019, it said.

As a result, capital expenditure was $130.5m, versus $88.2m in the year to June 2016.

“We’re making a significant investment in our people, technology and infrastructure to establish a platform for sustainable future returns, with

Looking ahead, chair Liz Coutts said the risks to the trading environment are similar to last year.

Container shipping lines continue to consolidate, with the top 10 lines globally now accounting for 80 per cent of all container traffic.

In New Zealand, the largest line has captured around 50 per cent of the market and the number of container lines calling at Ports of Auckland is down to eight as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

“We face relentless pressure to increase efficiency and cut costs,” she said.

Coutts said the company is also mindful of the potential threat to the global economy from the rise of protectionism and a possible trade war.

Any global economic slowdown that resulted would probably affect New Zealand and reduce global shipping volumes.

However, “the company is in a good position to weather such an event,” she said.

Construction begins on new Hamilton freight transport hub

Newshub.

Construction has started on a major new freight transport hub in Horotiu, north of Hamilton.

Open Country Dairy, New Zealand’s second largest exporter of whole milk power, will be the first tenant at the port and their facility will be up and running by early 2019.

51 Horotiu Road may look like one big paddock right now, but it is set to be an inland port in the Waikato owned by the Ports of Auckland.

Reinhold Goeschl, general manager of supply chain, estimates in five years there will be 300 people working within the hub.

Open Country Dairy (OCD) was the first to sign up. They’ll use one of the warehouses, while the others are yet to be snapped up.

Containers will arrive at the hub full of imported goods to be distributed around the region.

Once emptied, OCD will instantly refill those containers with exports like milk powder to be sent straight back.

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson says it’s taking a cost out of the supply chain.

“By using rail, we’re making it a very sustainable option.”

The inland port is right in the heart of what’s known as the golden triangle, and with the expressway and railways both nearby, moving freight to the three points of that triangle – Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga – becomes very easy.

But they’ve got some competition just down the road. The Ruakura Inland Port is also under development.

Coming in at just 33 hectares, it has nothing on the OCD’s 480 hectares. Mr Gibson has dismissed the idea of competition.

“Given the migration of business and distribution centres from Auckland, there are significant opportunities for us both.”

Both ports are intended to boost jobs, infrastructure and business in the area.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says the more the merrier.

“We haven’t even tried to go out and sell ourselves yet, it’s just coming to us by the truckload.”

Newshub.

High-rise sized cranes from China welcomed at Ports of Auckland with a waiata

Auckland’s port has just become home to the largest cranes in Australasia.

Three massive container-lifting cranes, each one larger than central Auckland’s HSBC building, completed the final leg of their month long journey from Shanghai, China, to Auckland on Friday morning.

The special delivery was the culmination of 20 years worth of preparation, and a $60 million investment.

The cranes, which stood 82.3 metres tall and weighed 2100 tonnes each, docked at Ports of Auckland in Mechanics Bay after 9am.

From there they will be offloaded onto the Ferguson North Wharf using specially designed rail tracks.

Three gigantic cranes arrived in the Auckland harbour on Friday morning.

Ports of Auckland boss Tony Gibson said they were the most technically advanced cranes on the market.

“They lift four containers at once and they can lift containers out of the hull of a ship at different heights – which is a first in the world”

He said the cranes’ capacity would greatly increase of the port’s ability to load and unload ships.

The cranes stand 82 metres tall and weigh 2100 tonnes - each one larger than central Auckland's HSBC building.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
The cranes stand 82 metres tall and weigh 2100 tonnes – each one larger than central Auckland’s HSBC building.

“They weigh a massive 2100 tonnes each – about 1000 tonnes heavier than our existing cranes.”

The cranes were manufactured by Chinese multinational engineering company ZPMC, especially for Auckland’s port.

They could stack containers on ships 9 high. New Zealand’s current largest cranes can stack containers only 7 high.

The special delivery was the culmination of 20 years worth of preparation, and a $60 million investment.
ALDEN WILLIAMS
The special delivery was the culmination of 20 years worth of preparation, and a $60 million investment.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said with such precious cargo, it was lucky the ship had not passed through a typhoon.

“This means that we have the most technologically advanced cranes and we can cope with the largest ship coming to our port.”

He said the upgrade was good for Ports of Auckland, and therefore a “bonus” for the ratepayers.

Ports of Auckland workers, standing on the decks of the old cranes, lined up for an unobstructed view of the new Chinese imports.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
Ports of Auckland workers, standing on the decks of the old cranes, lined up for an unobstructed view of the new Chinese imports.

“Ports of Auckland is of course owned by Auckland council, so its dividends feed directly into the ratepayers.”

Port’s spokesman Matt Ball said the cranes were needed to keep up with Auckland’s growth.

“More people in the city means more freight. The ships that bring our goods from overseas are getting bigger, so we need to make sure we can handle them.

The new cranes will work at double the capacity of the current ones.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
The new cranes will work at double the capacity of the current ones.

“With these new cranes, and the new deep water berth they will sit on, we’ll be able to handle the biggest ships coming to New Zealand.”

CRANES BY NUMBERS

– 82.3m tall, current cranes are 69.2m.

– 2100 tonnes, current cranes are 1300 tonnes.

– Able to lift four containers at once, current cranes can lift two.

– Able to be remotely operated – a New Zealand first.

– Able to lift containers stacked at different heights.

– Can reach 21 containers across, current cranes can reach 19 across.

Stuff

Container throughput at world’s busiest port surges since 1978

SHANGHAI, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) — The container transport capacity of Shanghai International Port, currently the busiest container port in the world, has surged more than 5,000 times since China began implementing the reform and opening-up policy in 1978.

Last year, the container throughput of the company, which operates all the public container and bulk terminals in the port of Shanghai, stood at 40.23 million standard containers, or twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up from just 7,951 TEUs in 1978, the company said.

The figure represents an annual average growth of more than 24 percent, making the company the world’s largest port in terms of container capacity for eight consecutive years, the data showed.

Chen Xuyuan, the company’s chairman, attributed the rapid rise partly to the country’s fast growth and steady world economic growth over the past 40 years.

China’s GDP rose 33.5 times from 1978 to 2017, with an average annual growth of 9.5 percent, much higher than the world average of about 2.9 percent during the same period.

The company’s half-year report filed with the Shanghai stock exchange showed that its throughput in the first half rose 4.6 percent to 20.50 million TEUs, continuing to be the world’s largest.

Auckland wharfies plead for action on safety

View from the harbour. End of the winter 2016.
Maria Slade for The Spinoff

Following the death of a young wharfie there are claims Ports of Auckland is encouraging unsafe practices by paying bonuses for moving cargo faster.

Last month 23-year-old wharfie and father Laboom Dyer suffered fatal injuries when the straddle carrier he was driving tipped over at the Ports of Auckland. The tragedy has prompted a member of another watersider’s family to speak out about the safety culture at the port.

The person, who does not wish to be identified, says the wharfie community feels changes need to be made to prioritise safety over productivity.

In an open letter to the port’s board and management (published below), they identify the ‘box move’ bonus system which rewards workers with a financial bonus for moving a higher number of containers in a month.

Wharfies can earn up to an extra $600 a month under this system, the person claims.

“A few of the old boys say as soon as that was brought in they noticed such a change in drivers. It really had people pushing boundaries… to get that extra money,” the person told The Spinoff.

However Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) says its commitment to safety is “genuine and deep”.

“Everyone at Ports of Auckland, including the board and management, have been deeply affected by this accident. We mourn the loss of one of our own,” it said in a statement. “We want to know more than anyone why this accident happened, so we can work to prevent anything like it happening again.”

Around 60 percent of POAL’s wharfies are members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ). Union secretary Russell Mayn says the box move bonus is port policy and not part of any workplace agreement. “The Maritime Union does not support a bonus that encourages productivity by speed,” he says.

POAL is the only New Zealand port operating such a system, and also allows the straddle carriers – the freight vehicles used to move containers – to be driven faster than anywhere else in the country, he claims. Top speed at Auckland is 25kms an hour, compared with between 20-23kms at other ports, he says.

Following the death of Laboom Dyer the union asked POAL to reduce the maximum speed to 22kms and put the box move bonus on hold but was declined, Mayn says.

The port company said it declined the request because there was no evidence that these factors contributed to the accident.  “All factors will be included in the investigation,” it said.

Ports of Auckland is carrying out its own investigation into last month’s fatal accident and is assisting the independent investigation by WorkSafe New Zealand.

Relations between POAL and MUNZ may not be as acrimonious as they were during the great port dispute of the early 2000s, but they remain tense to say the least.

The collective agreement finally hammered out following that protracted and bitter industrial battle has expired, and port and union are once again in facilitation trying to find common ground.

In the past year alone two disputes have ended up at the Employment Relations Authority – one over last-minute changes to shift times, and a second over breaches to rules preventing workers from being rostered on for more than 60 hours in a seven-day period. In both cases the authority found largely in the union’s favour.

The union is sensitive to publicity: It would not agree to an interview with The Spinoff without several members of its executive and its lawyer being present.

At Ports of Auckland there is a poor culture of safety and trying to maximise profit at the expense of workers, Mayn claims. “Before the last collective agreement I don’t believe there was a culture like that.”

The union’s main concerns in the current collective negotiations are around hours of work and fatigue risk management, he says.

“Really our main concern is there’s been three deaths [in our industry] in less than 18 months. We believe there should be an industry code of practice that is regulated.”

The full text of the open letter and Ports of Auckland’s response is below.

An open letter to the directors and management of Ports of Auckland, Aotearoa

Last week the unimaginable happened. A critical accident involving one of our young men that ended with us laying a brother to rest.

Following the accident that stripped a beautiful young lad from the prosperous life he was bound to live, what changes as a company have you made to ensure the safety of our whānau inside your million-dollar gates?

Your workplace is a high risk working environment. The men and women employed by you face such imminent risks as soon as they swipe into your front gates. Those men and women are our partners, our children, our siblings and our whānau. They’re more than just employees there to get a job done.

As someone whose life could have been affected in the same way this young man’s family has been now, I ask you, ‘what you are doing to prevent this from ever happening again?’

Those inside the wharfie lifestyle know far too well the pressures that can be placed on your workers. It is not only expected for them to do the long hours of their job efficiently and effectively, but to get that job done as fast as possible.

But will you rebut by saying that is simply not true? Well then why did you as management implement a ‘box move’ bonus system? This system rewards the drivers of your company with a financial bonus for the greatest amount of container box moves they are able to make within a month.

Does that not seem to you like you are creating a culture that places productivity above the personal health and safety of your workers and their peers?

I know many of those affected by this devastating accident just want to see appropriate culture changes made and better health and safety protocols implemented for the safety of our whānau.

For all those whose lives this has affected, it is something we will remember for a lifetime – but what happens in 10 years when a new bunch of young men and women think of this as nothing but a story?

I plead with you to take action. Do some reflecting on the state this company is in and make changes that will ensure this NEVER happens again.

Your company is supposedly based on ‘family values’ – if that is the case then now is your time to show it.

We should have never had to lay our brother and a beautiful young father to rest last week. Rest in love Boom – a life taken far too soon.

Sincerely,

A devastated member of the wharfies’ greater community.

Response from Ports of Auckland

“We completely understand the feelings expressed in this letter. Everyone at Ports of Auckland, including the board and management, have been deeply affected by this accident. We mourn the loss of one of our own and our condolences continue to be offered to his family, all who loved him, worked with him, socialised with him and everyone his life touched.

“Our commitment to safety is genuine and deep. We want to know more than anyone why this accident happened, so we can work to prevent anything like it happening again. We are carrying out our own investigation and we are assisting the independent investigation by WorkSafe New Zealand.

“While these investigations are underway we can’t comment on what we think might be the cause.”

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