Home » 3PL/4PL, Breaking News, Customs & Trade, Exclusives, Ports/Terminals » Strike averted as ACTOO, AISL strike deal on interim measures for empty container returns

The Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Operators (ACTOO) has suspended its plan to hold a strike following an agreement with the Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) to put in place provisional measures to address issues with the return of empty containers.

AISL general manager Atty. Maximino Cruz, in a text message to PortCalls, said the strike suspension followed a series of talks between the liner group and ACTOO.

The trucking group last month announced a planned strike to protest unresolved issues concerning the return of empty containers.

In an email, Cruz said both parties have agreed to a maximum period of 24-hour waiting time for empty returns, beginning from the time the truck carrying the container arrives at the designated container yard (CY).

If the truck is not serviced within the 24-hour period, the trucker will report the incident to ACTOO management, which in turn will verify the trucker’s claim by determining whether the truck had indeed arrived at, and was duly acknowledged by, the designated CY, and checking whether the prescribed waiting period had been observed.

If the ACTOO management finds the trucker’s claim to be true, ACTOO will email the shipping line concerned, narrating the facts and showing the result of the verification. The concerned shipping line then has two hours, starting from the time the email was sent, to reply. If no reply is received by ACTOO management after two hours, it shall issue clearance to the trucker to divert the empty container to a common yard in Bulacan.

Cruz added that it is their “mutual understanding” that AISL and ACTOO will revisit the agreement in two weeks after the agreed procedure started, to correct deficiencies and refine procedures. The agreement took effect on the first week of July.

He stressed the arrangement is “provisional… aimed at easing the worsening dearth of CY space in Metro Manila largely felt by all stakeholders and at the same time provide relief to truckers in the meantime that the CY operators are putting up their own facilities outside of Metro Manila.”

Cruz earlier said the main issue is that the current number of CYs in Metro Manila can no longer accommodate the volume of empty containers. AISL president Patrick Ronas earlier pointed out that while the volumes of imports have grown, the number of container yards, specifically in Metro Manila, has not. The Philippines, being an import-driven country with three imports for every one export, suffers from too many empty containers.

ACTOO president Ricardo Papa also said that space is the central issue and that foreign liners “should find additional areas to keep their empty containers and not pass the burden on to truckers who, for a long time now, have been custodians/yayas of the empty boxes, losing significant earnings in the process.”

Cruz said the agreement is not exclusive to ACTOO members, adding that once procedural details have been tested and refined, other trucking groups may wish to follow the agreement as well.

Aside from ACTOO, AISL is in talks with other trucking organizations to address long-standing issues with the return of empty containers. Some government agencies have also called for meetings, and have given suggestions which are being considered by the private sector.

Cruz said AISL will continue to hold dialogues with truckers and other stakeholders as well. – Roumina Pablo

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