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PMA, ILWU 'holding the supply chain community hostage' say US retailers

PMA, ILWU 'holding the supply chain community hostage' say US retailers

As the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) suspended US West Coast port operations this weekend in its long running battle with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) US retailers accused both sides of taking the “supply chain community hostage”.

“The entire supply chain – from agriculture to manufacturing and retail to transportation – have been dealing with the lack of a West Coast port contract for the last nine months,” said US National Retail Federation (NRF) vice president for supply chain Jonathan Gold.

"Enough is enough. The escalating rhetoric, the threats, the dueling press releases and the inability to find common ground between the two sides are simply driving up the cost of products, jeopardising American jobs and threatening the long term viability of businesses large and small.”

Contract negotiations between the PMA and ILWU have dragged on unsuccessfully for nine months, and the last three months have been marked by a series of “go slows” at West Coast ports by ILWU members. On Friday the PMA announced its members were suspending vessel loading and unloading operations at 29 ports on the US West Coast over the weekend as they were unwilling to pay workers premium rates for lower productivity.

NRF’s Gold stated: “Our message to the ILWU and PMA: Stop holding the supply chain community hostage. Get back to the negotiating table, work with the federal mediator and agree on a new labour contract.”

The NRF says its is the world’s largest retail trade association.

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