Uncertainty and Confusion Result from Hanjin Shipping Bankruptcy

Posted September 6, 2016
Category Company News

Hanjin Shipping filed for receivership last week after its creditors refused to provide extra funding to the shipping line.

The bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping has caused turmoil with some ports and container handling facilities refusing to handle its cargo with other ocean carriers are announcing they will no longer load cargo onto Hanjin-operated vessels.  Additionally, ocean carriers with cargo presently on board Hanjin vessels are working to make arrangements for the immediate release and discharge of their cargo.

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, has written to the US secretary of commerce, Penny Pritzker and Federal Maritime Commission chairman Mario Cordero, urging them to help prevent disruption.

Jonathan Gold, the group’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said: “Retailers’ main concern is that there is millions of dollars worth of merchandise that needs to be on store shelves that could be impacted by this. Some of it is sitting in Asia waiting to be loaded on ships, some is already aboard ships out on the ocean and some is sitting on US docks waiting to be picked up. It is understandable that port terminal operators, railroads, trucking companies and others don’t want to do work for Hanjin if they are concerned they won’t get paid.

Members of California’s congressional delegation asked the federal government Sunday afternoon to get involved in the Hanjin Shipping insolvency, and get cargo stranded on the Korean company’s ships offloaded at U.S. ports and sent to their destinations.

According to Mark Jurisic of Local 13 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the idled terminal would normally have had 200-300 longshoremen working during its two shifts. Today, he thought the only longshoremen at the facility were members of a skeleton crew to maintain refrigerated equipment to prevent food or other temperature-sensitive goods from being damaged.

Barb Maynard of the Teamsters Port Division said the shutdown is costing work for drayage drivers, most of whom are independent owner operators who must continue to pay for the use of trucks despite the unavailability of cargo.

“Hanjin’s collapse presents an unprecedented global crisis,” Hahn said. “We’ve never seen a shipping company this large file for bankruptcy and there is no road map for what should happen next. The global shipping industry will have to deal with new issues over the coming months and years as these bankruptcy procedures will take some time.”

Hahn expressed concern about workers on the ships, but also said, “there are valid concerns for not wanting to unload these ships. There is great uncertainty over whether our ports and workers will ever get paid. However, leaving these ships stranded with thousands of containers is not the answer. Every day these ships remain outside our ports is another day that our local port workers and truck drivers go without work, and businesses waiting on goods are losing money.”

She and other members of the delegation called on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to intervene, noting that the shipping industry is entering the peak season when many holiday goods headed to retailers are arriving.

Hahn said Pritzker should “step in and start discussions with Hanjin and South Korea to come to an agreement that guarantees our ports and our workers will be paid, brings the Hanjin crews to safety and gets the ships unloaded."
(Source: American Shipper)

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