Log In

Reset Password

No sign of an end to dock dispute

Hamilton Docks: scene of union dispute

Dock workers and management were still deadlocked in a mystery dispute last night.

Essential goods have been unloaded at Hamilton docks, but other cargo has been sent back overseas to the frustration of some retailers.

The dispute, which started last Thursday, moved to Supreme Court yesterday and will continue today.

Warren Jones, chief executive of Stevedoring Services, said last night that two container ships had left the island on Friday — one with empty containers only, and a second, understood to be the Bermuda Islander, still with unloaded cargo on board.

Mr Jones added: “We can confirm there were no ships in dock over the weekend.

He said the Oleander arrived yesterday and dockers unloaded perishable and essential goods only.

Mr Jones refused to talk about the cause of the dispute.

He said the company could not discuss “specific personnel matters” which are protected by its privacy policy.

Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert also refused to comment when contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday.

Barry Brewer, the president and CEO of Neptune Group Management, which operates the Oleander, said that items unloaded yesterday included refrigerated containers and urgent cargo, such as medical supplies and pet food.

A total of 32 containers with essential items came off the Bermuda Islander, with the rest expected to return on the container ship’s next voyage.

Zach Moniz, a manager at Lindo’s, described the impasse as “just inconvenient”.

He said: “The bags we use to pack groceries are on one boat and have gone back.

“I also have some construction supplies for Devonshire that have not come off the dock.

“We have people left standing around who could be unloading containers, and are not.

“It hasn’t become a huge problem, but it’s having the desired effect.”

Another local businessman, who asked not to be named, said the industrial action was “frustrating”.

He added: “It’s so damaging to everybody. The shippers are doing what they can to help.”

The businessman said his shipping agent sent out an update on Friday afternoon that said the dispute continued.

He added: “Obviously there has been no resolution because there is nothing moving on the docks.”

The businessman said customers had asked about their items, but he told them that his hands were tied.

He added: “The way retail works, if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it.

“I have to get my stuff off the dock, get it delivered, complete the sale and hopefully get paid. It’s a wheel that has to keep turning.”

He said the action also had a knock-on effect on his staff and others who work to bring in the items and unload them, as well as retailers and consumers.

The businessman added: “You affect everybody. This is no way to win an argument.”

Nick Kempe, president of Bermuda Forwarders, which brings in ocean freight on the Oleander and the Bermuda Islander, said the action had hit his customers.

He added: “Obviously, any time freight isn’t moving, it affects our customers. People who had freight on the Bermuda Islander were also affected and we have been actively communicating with them.”

Mr Kempe said they had not been contacted by many customers and that most people seemed to be aware of the situation.

He added: “We hope it gets resolved quickly.”

The Bermuda Islander is expected to arrive back in Bermuda on Thursday, according to the Bermuda International Shipping Ltd schedule.