Thousands in losses during recent strike
Local businesses were adversely affected by the recent industrial action at the Bridgetown port when workers staged a protest in solidarity with their striking Barbados Water Authority (BWA) counterparts.
In fact, unofficial estimates are that various businesses would have lost thousands of dollars in earnings due to their inability to clear goods from the Bridgetown Port as a result of the industrial action two Thursdays ago.
Airport workers also supported the Barbados Workers Union-represented BWA workers who were on strike demanding payment of $33 million in increments dating back to 2006.
Marketing Director of Armstrong Agencies Limited and former Chamber of Commerce President Andy Armstrong told Barbados TODAY his business suffered significant loss of sales due to the action at the sea port.
He said a shipment with two containers of items that were badly needed by his company did not make it to the port as a result of the industrial action, which lasted several hours.
“So that meant they wouldn’t have come to Barbados until the ship came back a week later,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it was items that we already needed to stock quite badly. So that would have been an additional week that we didn’t have products to sell to the stores,” said Armstrong.
“Not having those products for that week, we would have lost probably about $30,000 to $40,000 in sales. It is pretty significant for a company like ours,” he added.
However, he said since the strike did not last the entire day, Customs officers visited his business in the afternoon to oversee the opening of one container that was already out the port.
Sean Morris, operator of one of the island’s growing shipping agencies, Cargo BGI, told Barbados TODAY at least 30 of his customers were significantly impacted and were “put back a week”.
However, he could not immediately say how much his business lost.
“So yes, we did have some disruption. We had about 30 customers being put out by the vessel not being able to work and then we had another customer who is setting up a water sport business who couldn’t get his cargo out,” said Morris.
“There is an impact on cost for everybody involved,” he said. “Obviously, with any delays, there is a dollar factor to it,” he added.
“We did a quick analysis of how it affects people with the port closing [and] where we would have trucks that would haul four or five containers a day at $400 a container, nothing happened. So the customers didn’t get any cargo, the truckers didn’t get any revenue, the gas stations didn’t sell any diesel and it all trickles down. So there is always a cost,” he explained.
“If you have guys who operate their businesses to certain budgets and expectations, one day where you are losing $1,500 or $1,600 for a trucker could really affect their operation,” he added.
When contacted on the matter, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Port Inc David Jean-Marie told Barbados TODAY that since the strike lasted less than a day, any storage charges involved were waived and there was no impact on the port “except there was the day of disruption”.
“So there is no additional cost. In fact we opened the port on Saturday so we got back a day,” he added. (MM)