Recovery? What recovery? Somebody’s pulling our legs. Somebody’s stalling for time – time to siphon more money from what’s left of this crashing economy.
Don’t try to sell A P Moeller-Maersk on this “recovery” hogwash. According to a report seen in Lloyd’s List last week, “Maersk abandons recovery hopes and looks to slash officer jobs”
“Maersk Line is seeking over 280 voluntary officer redundancies from the UK and Denmark in a bid to slash costs across the company. Confirming the industry’s worst fears, the box giant admitted that hopes of an early economic upturn have now been abandoned and frontline jobs are on the line.”
Shipping Gazette reported that Maersk “will replace 170 junior officers on Danish flagged container carriers with Asian officers in order to reduce costs related to the running of the ships. ‘We have to look at all costs. The replacements will be effected on a voluntary basis after negotiations with the employees involved’, explains Henrik Sloth, Marine HR manager in A P Moller-Maersk.
“The decision has shocked the Danish shipping community”, the report continued … A P Moller-Maersk has 3,000 officers employed, of whom 800 are Danish citizens.”
Addressing those who were inclined to downplay this step, Maersk’s CFO, Morton Nicolaisen, stated at the East Coast Maritime Conference last week that container lines need “transformation” in order to survive.
“I deliberately used the word transformation as opposed to just change,” Nicolaisen said. “Change can sometimes be a tweak or a small thing that you’re changing. Transformation is much more fundamental.”
Major consolidation among carriers is needed to save the shipping industry, he said. The state of the industry is much worse than the $ 208 billion losses expected in 2009, he added.
Losses of $ 208 billion? For carriers that comprise the most significant mode of transportation in the international supply chain? Some recovery, huh? Or how about this announcement from the Port of Tacoma and NYK:
“Tacoma Box Terminal Cancelled — The Port of Tacoma and the Japanese shipping firm NYK have announced that plans for a $ 300 million new container terminal at the US port, announced three years ago and due to be leased to NYK from 2012, have been cancelled due to the global recession.”
The decision to abandon the dedicated NYK facility hasn’t come out of the blue. In July, the Tacoma News Tribune reported that the port was eyeing changes to the agreement with NYK because declining volumes in the Pacific Northwest had shifted priorities away from capacity expansion due to slackening container volumes and the rising cost of the development.
When the world’s largest container carrier needs to terminate 280 “frontline” jobs; and when the “state of the industry is much worse than the $ 208 billion losses expected”; and when the construction of a $ 300 million container terminal is cancelled outright … you know we’re in deep trouble. But, so what? Those are the big cheeses. They can afford setbacks.
But what about the not-so-big-cheeses. The little guys. The guys on the street. The ones out in the cold. The ones Jere Downs told us about in Louisville’s October 8 Courier-Journal:
“10,000 apply for 90 factory jobs” was Jere’s headline. And here’s what the sad story revealed:
“In the latest sign of weakness in Louisville-area employment, about 10,000 people applied over three days for 90 jobs building washing machines at General Electric for about $ 27,000 per year and hefty benefits …
“With the Jefferson County unemployment rate at 10.6 percent in August and more than 38,000 unemployed people looking for work, the opportunity for moderate pay and health care was an attractive lure …
“The rush of applicants came as no surprise to Jerry Carney, president of local761, who noted that another recent GE advertisement for 13 maintenance workers drew 700 job seekers.”
Anyone who speaks of “recovery” and “recession” is an ignoramus … or worse. We saw – first hand – similar instances of desperate job searches in the 30s. Today’s unemployed are as anxious to find work as the folks back then were, and when the Emergency Shipbuilding Programs were established by FDR, the opportunity to earn a high guaranteed wages in shipyards along our coastlines was all that was needed to attract entire families to shipbuilding centers.
But that’s not all. Additional housing, schools and other needed services had to be provided for those newly-employed transplants, and many thousands of job opportunities were thereby created for artisans in the building and construction trades.
As younger shipyard workers were called into the armed services, the decision was made to recruit women to fill the vacancies . In addition to these women, African Americans were hired in order to meet production goals, and records show that productivity for women and for black shipyard workers was as high as that of any other group during the war years.
As we said earlier, we’ve been in this pickle before but we solved our unemployment problems by employing about 50 million people in the shipbuilding trades. It’s time to create those jobs again.
“It’ll be easier this time,” we reminded you, “because many shipyards are available; we know how to build new facilities; the demands from a navy shipbuilding program will not be an impediment; our patented container ships can be built quickly and simply; our patents exclude all foreign competition …
“… and we’re already wasting trillions in futile efforts to stave off a global economic meltdown.”