Thursday, October 14, 2010

U-Freight on the move in Ireland

As part of a revised business strategy, U-Freight’s associate in Ireland, EFL International Distribution and subsidiary, SkanTrans Ireland has moved its freight handling and distribution activities to a 7,000 sq m facility close to Dublin airport.

Despite the global downturn in general trading, the company’s existing warehouse facility adjacent to the company’s head office at Santry, Dublin was not large enough to support the volume of trailers and containers that require loading and unloading.

The new warehouse is located at ECS House, Willisborough Industrial Estate, Clonshaugh, Dublin 17 and will allow EFL to better serve its fellow associates within the U-Freight Group.

EFL International Distribution Ltd has been an agent associate of the U Freight Group for over 20 years in Ireland and together with its subsidiary, SkanTrans Ireland Ltd, provides full operational and administrative services covering Customs Clearance, EU trailer and short sea container, air freight plus FCL and LCL ocean freight operations on a global basis.

“We are delighted with our new warehouse location which offers excellent access to Dublin International airport and will allow us to continue to improve our service capabilities,” commented Chris Radley, Director of EFL International Distribution.

“The new warehouse is the hub of all activities in some form or another from cross docking, labelling, location, security, to full stock control and inventory reporting plus pick and pack operations.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

France hit by third general strike in just over a month

A one-day general strike in France today 12th Oct'10 – a protest against a pensions reform Bill – could trigger open-ended industrial action at state railway SNCF and at the country’s main container ports.

The Bill, which focuses on raising the minimum retirement age, is being rubber-stamped in the French Senate having already being passed by the Assembly. At SNCF, the strike began at 8pm yesterday and all its unions gave notice that they were ready to stage rolling strikes, renewable from day to day after the general strike ends, if there is no government climb-down on increasing the minimum retirement age.

Its rail freight division, Fret SNCF, has warned customers it expects “serious disruption” to services today, that that could extend into tomorrow. Each day of strike action costs the state operator an estimated €20 million in lost revenue. At the ports, the CGT Ports and Docks Federation has called on its members to intensify action and stage open-ended strikes to get the government to modify the Bill to take into account the physical nature of the work carried out by dockers and crane drivers.

It has already curtailed the length of shifts over the past few weeks and instigated stoppages over the last two weekends . At Marseilles, a separate strike by oil terminal workers has entered its third week, raising fears of fuel shortages in France. Cross-Channel ferry operator SeaFrance said its staff were not strike, but industrial action by port workers at Calais meant vessels were taking longer to dock than usual.

Unions representing SNCF and port workers will convene meetings this evening to vote on prolonging the strike. As for road freight, a senior official of the main union representing French truck drivers, the CFDT, told IFW that while its members had been urged to support today’s general strike, prolonged action was not yet on the agenda.

A spokesman said: “As the pension reform Bill stands, truck drivers who qualify for early retirement will be adversely affected, but we’ll wait and see what comes out of today’s protest before taking a decision next week on whether to engage in action specific to the road haulage sector.” With air traffic controllers also backing today’s strike, the French Civil Aviation Authority has requested that airlines reduce their flight programmes by 30% at Paris Roissy-CDG and by 50% at Paris Orly airports. Air France said it expected to operate all its long-haul flights, but has cancelled some domestic and European services. The French Post Office estimated that around 17% of its staff were on strike this morning.

Source: IFW

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NITL signs up for liner reform

The US National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), which represents more than 600 shipper and transport firms, has said it is in favour of the “underlying reforms and purposes” of the Shipping Act of 2010.

The Bill was introduced to the US House of Representatives on 22 September by Congressmen James Oberstar and Elijah Cummings.

If passed into law, the Bill, which has been welcomed by shipper organisations around the world, would eliminate anti-trust immunity for ocean carriers serving the US, bringing an end to shipping lines engaging in joint negotiations on freight rates or surcharges through conferences.

The NITL said the current US shipping regulatory system did not work in the best interests of US businesses that were required to compete in the global market. “The bill seeks to address recent problems faced by importers and exporters in enforcing service contract obligations in a timely and cost effective manner,” said the NITL. NITL President Bruce Carlton added: “The bill recognises that increased competition, reliability and market-driven efficiencies are necessary for services provided by the liner carriers in the US-international trades.”

Congressman Oberstar argues that the new legislation will prevent liner carriers discussing or agreeing upon rates and charges, including guidelines that form the basis of pricing services for their customers. “Eliminating the anti-trust immunity for these [liner] conference agreements will increase competition by requiring ocean carriers to compete in the marketplace with the best price and service to get shippers’ business,” he said last month.

Source: IWF 5th Oct 2010