Tougher economic climate for Oz stevedores

The latest year’s figures included data from the new Victoria International Container Terminal operation in Melbourne for the first time (image is of Melbourne) Photo: justalf/Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons The latest year’s figures included data from the new Victoria International Container Terminal operation in Melbourne for the first time (image is of Melbourne) Photo: justalf/Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons

All Australian stevedores felt the pinch of a tougher economic climate last year, with profitability falling sharply during 2017–18.

The latest container stevedoring report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) — the industry’s competition regulator — shows sector profitability dropped to a combined A$60m compared with the A$183m achieved in 2016–17. The operating profit margin declined from 14.7% to 4.5%.

The detail of the report shows there were different performances between established stevedores and new entrants. The latest year’s figures included data from the new Victoria International Container Terminal operation in Melbourne for the first time and were impacted as a result.

Nonetheless the profitability of the whole sector was impacted by both a reduction in tariffs charged to shipping lines and an increase in operating costs.

Property costs soared, including “significant increases” in DP World’s rental costs at Melbourne. The ACCC said this “continues a trend of increasing property costs over the past decade”.

Ship rate productivity (the number of containers transferred to or from ships using the combined input of labour and cranes) increased 2.3% to 56.9 containers per hour but net crane rate (the number of containers handled per crane operating hour) fell by 2.3% to 28.5 containers per hour.

Industrial relations remain an ongoing challenge for the industry, with all five stevedores impacted by industrial action during 2017–18.

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