Port Authority – recalibration of port’s position in the community and with clients, unions and other stakeholders.




Over the years the port authority had experienced an increasingly contentious environment between the union, terminal operators, community and the logistics sector, which was negatively impacting the interests of all concerned.  This was identified as a major challenge by the incoming chief executive, who wanted to take the opportunity of a new administration to ‘re-align’ common interests, goals and objectives.


An assessment of each stakeholder’s position was done; a review of the port’s competitive position was made; surveys were undertaken to identify key issues; and extensive interviews with port staff, union members and clients were conducted. With the results and in conjunction with port senior management, a strategy was developed to ‘re-align’ the interests of all concerned through a one day port workshop open to the public. At the workshop and overview of the history of the port, its contribution over the decades to the community and its current market position and the challenges the industry and more specifically the port faced was presented. The overriding message was that if all stakeholders did not align their interests and reach a higher level of co-operation, the port would start to seriously lose market share, since the present status quo was making the port uncompetitive and unsustainable. Extensive questions and answers periods were held, along with numerous roundtable discussions addressing key issues and collectively addressing hypothetical case studies (reflecting reality in most cases). At one roundtable, union members and terminal operators were purposely seated side by side (to their great discomfort). At the end of the workshop key goals and objectives were collectively set with the key, unspoken, one being to have all concerned buy into a re-alignment and a new start for them and for the port.


The bringing together of port stakeholders, shareholders and the community at large had striking effects. The interdependency of each player became self-evident, with co-operation and a willingness to discuss issues in the future clearly critical, if the port was to survive. The workshop also set the stage for the clear change of course the new chief executive was going to take. Five years after the workshop, a presentation was made to the community on the progress they all had made since the workshop. The results were dramatic and a testament to the vision of the then new chief executive and the willingness of the port clients, union and the community at large to forge ahead under a newly re-aligned purpose and spirit.