MUA industrial action on the Australian waterfront is set to widen the gap between the top distributors and their smaller rivals in Victoria.
An ARN investigation into the impact of the dispute on the Victorian channel has revealed that distributors representing tier one hardware vendors may be in a better position because of their scant use of sea freight transport. Smaller companies, typically reliant on sea freight, are being forced to fly supplies in and swallow increases of up to 400 per cent on their existing transport costs.
Officials from Digiland, CHA and ITG all said that the vast majority of their supplies already come via air. And providing secondary boycott legislation prevents industrial action spreading to other transport unions it is unlikely their inventory levels will suffer. All three companies claimed that none of their stock is currently being held at the docks.
James Robbins, marketing manager with CHA, said the company is not suffering as a result of the dispute, and is "well stocked".
But Fabrice Cassou, general manager of Com One International, said that if the situation gets any worse, he will find himself in a dangerous situation.
The company has $US250,000 worth of stock on the Melbourne docks. "So far the dispute hasn't caused too much damage, but I'm getting to a stock level whereby I will run into shortages very soon."
Cassou also admitted that the cost of air freight could pressure smaller operations such as his into raising prices. And ACA Pacific marketing manager Jacqui Nagy said that there was a risk of freight bottlenecks at the airports if the impasse between warring parties on the waterfront drags on much longer.