June 22, 2017

Stevedores monopoly exposed over port fees deception

The TWU is urgently calling on the ACCC to investigate the matter. 

News that Patrick’s rent charged by NSW Port has decreased reveals the deception behind the stevedore’s “infrastructure surcharge” for trucks.


“These exorbitant fees have imposed major burdens on transport companies and owner drivers, which are already operating on tight margins,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon


“These fees are putting truck drivers under even more pressure to work long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks while vital maintenance on vehicles will get delayed. Ordinary road users will ultimately bear the brunt of this – with their lives,” he added.


“I am urgently calling on the ACCC to investigate these fees since it is clear that stevedores are using their monopoly to gouge from the transport industry instead of ensuring that wealthy ship owners at the top of the supply chain pay their fair share,” Sheldon said.


Richard Olsen, State Secretary, Transport Workers Union of NSW said: “This is a grab for profits off the backs of hard working drivers. On behalf of TWU members, I also call for the ACCC to investigate these Patrick surcharges”


“Given recent media reports* suggesting the value to the profit bottom line for Patrick from these surcharges, I would suggest the ACCC move with some urgency. The benefit for the few that these surcharges make whilst drivers struggle to support their families makes this deception all the more outrageous,” Olsen said.




Stevedores have been exposed for abusing their powerful monopoly at our ports, which is crippling trucking businesses and making our roads less safe (“Port denies raising Patrick’s rent”, 22/6).


“We are already seeing an increase in deaths and injuries at the moment: last year one out of every three workers killed was a transport worker while deaths from rigid and articulated trucks went up. We do not need more pressure on transport, we need accountability among the clients which are ultimately responsible for safety in the supply chain,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.


The TWU also criticised the imbalance in payment terms for trucking companies: DP World insists on payment within seven days while trucking business can wait up to 120 days for payment. “The Federal Government abolished payment terms for truck drivers when it tore down the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal last year. Its silence is deafening on this burden which is now being placed on drivers at the ports,” said Sheldon.


The TWU fears the price hike will put thousands of owner drivers out of business. “These small trucking businesses are already subsisting on tight margins and they have among the highest rates of bankruptcies for any businesses. This fee should not be passed on to those at the bottom of the supply chain,” Sheldon added.


The TWU supports industry calls for the ACCC to investigate the fees. “This will clearly skew competition and hurt transport. This could potentially have a knock-on effect in other parts of our economy.”

 “The TWU will support any owner drivers taking direct action against the ports over the coming weeks in a similar way to the port blockades of the 1980s and 1990s. We will support drivers standing up to this level of extortion,” Sheldon added.

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