April 21, 2021 – Last Thursday, April 15, the Maritime Employers Association presented a counter proposal to the Longshoremen’s Union. The parties have not met since and nothing is currently scheduled in terms of further negotiations. The union, in accordance with their partial strike decision, did not work over the April 17-18 weekend. The railways indicate they are operating as planned, but there is a current backlog due to increased imports (from 2 weeks ago) and the past weekend’s strike action. Cargo originating from the U.S. Midwest is in many cases diverting to other ports. Truck productivity has increased approximately 18% as cargo is moving via road. Next week is expected to be problematic, with potential for further backlog, as six vessels are scheduled to arrive at the Port of Montreal. Canaan transport expects congestion and further delays as the union’s partial strike continues.
April 19, 2021 – Container spot rates are beginning to head upwards again across all trades from already elevated levels, as carriers reduce their commitment to contract volumes in favour of much higher FAK rates.
The FBX China-North Europe component is up a phenomenal 430% on the same time last year, at a time in the supply chain cycle when rates are generally under slack season pressure before a peak season recovery in July. One UK-based NVOCC said this week his carrier had not only doubled his contract rate from Asia, but had also cut his minimum quantity commitment by 75%. “We now have only a quarter of our business covered by the new contract and the rest will be at the mercy of the line’s FAK rates and all manner of surcharges,” he said. The forwarder also works for clients with a sizeable U.S. market and complained that rates on the transatlantic were now “out of control.”
April 15, 2021 – The Longshoremen’s Union Local 375 posted a release from its Quais Express publication on its Facebook page on April 14. The release was titled, “Meeting with Federal Mediators and Half-Truths from the Port of Montreal.” Highlights from the release, authored by President Martin LaPierre, provide the union’s perspective on recent events:
• At 2 pm on April 13, union representatives met with the three federal mediators appointed by the Minister of Labour.
• The meeting was called at the request of the federal mediators to discuss the state of negotiations.
• The MEA has not yet made itself available for further negotiations despite claiming it is still ready and available to negotiate.
• The union has asked the federal mediators to call the parties back to the table for further negotiations and is waiting for a response from mediators on this point.
• In response to the MEA’s claim that the Port of Montreal’s March traffic volume dropped by 11% due to uncertainty around labour negotiations and the diversion of traffic to other ports, the union claims that the total drop in volumes is 5.07% and that the 11% figure actually refers to a drop in petroleum/liquid bulk, which is a direct consequence of the pandemic. The union also stated that longshoremen from local 375 are never involved in the handling of liquid bulk at the Port of Montreal.
• The union planned to meet again yesterday. Members were told to continue with their work as scheduled and await further communication from the local.
Yesterday evening, the MEA notified Canaan Transport that the mediators have summoned both parties back to the table to negotiate today.
April 15, 2021 – Two weeks after it was freed from the Suez Canal, the giant container ship Ever Given is once again stuck, snared in a legal row between Egyptian authorities and the ship’s owners over the financial impact of the accident. The massive ship has been impounded by a court in Ismailia, as the Suez Canal Authority pursues its Japanese owners for the cost of the salvage operation and lost transit fees for the week that the canal was blocked. Our customers with cargo on board this vessel have already been notified and insurance claims are already proceeding. Please contact your sales representative for any additional information.
April 13, 2021 – There are reports that a strike at the Port of Montreal will be a reality as both sides are now airing their grievances with separate news conferences. Both sides will meet today with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service: the MEA at 10:00 am, the union separately at 2:00 pm. It is hoped that the situation will be resolved in order to avoid a catastrophic situation for importers and exporters alike.
April 11, 2021 – The Maritime Employers Association (MEA) shared the following message on Saturday, April 10. The Port of Montreal suffered a substantial 11%-volume drop in March, caused by the uncertainty and anxiety triggered by the labour relations situation. The employer exercised its right and gave a 72-hour notice to the union executive of the longshoremen before removing the income guarantee and stops paying the hours that are not worked, in order to mitigate the adverse effects of this volume drop.
The MEA will continue its efforts to conclude a negotiated collective agreement as soon as possible.
The MEA emphasized in a follow-up message to CIFFA that this is not a lockout. “Employees that are not working will not be paid. That’s it."
The MEA received a response on Saturday evening from the union, providing its own 72-hour notice, key elements of which are that:
· Starting Tuesday, April 13 at 6:00 pm, employees will do no overtime / fishing / extension hours.
· Starting Tuesday, April 13 at 6:00 pm, employees will not participate in any training activities.
· Starting Saturday, April 17, no linesmen will work on the weekend between Saturday 8:00 am and Monday 7:59 am.
· Starting Saturday, April 17, no employees will work on weekend shifts between Saturday 7:00 am and Monday 5:59 am.
All of these measures are applicable for an unlimited period of time.
April 5, 2021 – As the investigation into the grounding of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal begins, the vessel’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen, on April 1 declared General Average. While there is no reported damage to the cargo, and that to the vessel appears to be minimal, the cost of the salvage operation, which ultimately required 11 tugs and two dredgers, as well as possible compensation claims from a variety of interests such as the Suez Canal Authority or shipping companies caught up in the backlog, could amount to a sizeable bill. Canaan Transport will be in touch with customers whose cargo has been affected.
April 1, 2021 – Reports show cautious optimism as negotiations continue to avert a Port of Montreal strike. We have received confidential information that both sides are close to a deal and that the weekend may prove fruitful.
March 29, 2021 – The Suez Canal was officially back operating today as the Ever Given was refloated. About 421 ships are lined up to transit and the delay will take at least 1 week to clear up.
March 25, 2021 – The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement Thursday that it had officially suspended traffic while efforts to dislodge the 1,300-foot Ever Given, stuck crossways in the canal, continued, raising the possibility of major new disruptions to global commerce just as supply chains have begun to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, which is trying to free the ship, said "it might take weeks" to get the vessel off, possibly necessitating "a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tugboats and dredging of sand." Meanwhile, shipping traffic is quickly backing up at both ends of the canal, which normally sees about 50 ships transit each day. Shipping experts said that, if the canal can’t be cleared in the next 24 to 48 hours, vessels plying routes between Europe and Asia may be forced to divert around Africa, adding up to 12 days to the journey.