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Buenos Aires strike hurting NYK and other Asian carriers

Buenos Aires strike hurting NYK and other Asian carriers

Buenos Aires: NYK Line's Asia to East Coast of South America (ECSA) service is being diverted  from Buenos Aires to Montevideo due to a stevedores strike in Argentina's main container port.

The dispute clocked up a tenth day of strike action today as two rival dockers' unions battle it out over crane drivers' responsibilities. They are also seeking better pay and conditions but in the meantime carriers - including NYK Line, Hyundai, K Line and PIL - are having to leave behind export cargo and are diverting Argentine imports to the port of Montevideo, across the River Plate, in Uruguay.

It is understood around 30 vessel calls have been affected so far and around 4,000 extra export containers are piling up in the Buenos Aires Puerto Nuevo port area.
Workers at Puerto Nuevo - which includes the Hutchsion-operated BACTSA facility, DP World-operated TRP and also Terminal Four, run by APM Terminals - downed tools and stopped work, or began working to rule, initially over a dispute between the stevedores SUPA union and the Guinchelos union, that represents crane drivers.

And, according to a senior manager at Multimar, the shipping agency that is wholly owned by NYK Lines, the dispute - which started in the TRP terminal but then spread to Bactsa and T4 - has brought Puerto Nuevo to its knees.

"It has been going on for over a week now and we have cancelled two of our weekly calls and just unloaded the containers in Montevideo," the Multimar manager told Seatrade Asia Online. "I think many other carriers are doing the same."

NYK Line is in a joint ECSA to Asia service with Hyundai, K Line and PIL.
Argentine carrier Maruba - which also calls at TRP - and Maersk Line, which uses T4, have also been badly affected but German carrier Hamburg Sud has not been affected at all as its ships call at the Exolgan terminal which is 20 km away on the outskirts of BA and does not have the same unions operating  there.

The Multimar manager added that the Argentine Labour Ministry seems about to make a ruling that crane drivers must belong to the Guinchelos union, and that should help bring the dispute to a close.  [28/08/09]