DP World, which is one of the largest terminal operators in Australia, reported Friday evening, November 10, that the company had suspended all port terminal operations due to what it is calling a “cybersecurity incident.” Operations were being suspended the company said for the safety of its customers and employees.
“Our teams are working diligently to contain the situation and determine the impact on our systems and data,” DP World Australia said in a statement released to the Australian media. The company reports that it is engaging with cybersecurity experts and notifying the relevant authorities while continuing to investigate the scope of the breach.
The work stoppage was reportedly launched for all shoreside operations at the company’s terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Fremantle after the breach was discovered during the day on Friday. It is expected that the company will provide additional details on Saturday, but on Friday night visitors to the company’s website were seeing warning messages.
“Checking if the site connection is secure,” was appearing on some pages on the DP World Australia site. It was also saying that dpworld.com needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. Public portions of the site however remained online.
The cyber incident comes as DP World Australia has been locked in an ongoing labor dispute with dockworkers and other positions in the ports represented by the Maritime Union of Australia. The dispute began in October and is over the company’s enterprise agreement with the union. Negotiations are reported to be at an impasse on issues of wage increases as well as work rule changes.
This week, DP World Australia accused the union of being stuck on its demand of a 27 percent wage increase but not willing to permit changes to workplace rules which the company says would maintain and improve productivity. The union is demanding increases to reflect the efforts of the dockworkers during the pandemic and at the same time wants improvements to the roster system to improve the work-life balance for members. The union responded to DP World’s accusations saying they were not willing to “back down” from their demands for a more responsive roster system.
The Maritime Union of Australia has been imposing work bans on certain tasks at each of the four ports such as refusing extended shifts and overtime. They are also staging rolling 24-strikes at the various terminals. This week they announced that they were again extending their notice with the strikes now set to run at least through November 20. They had previously extended the notice in late October as well as increasing the extent of the bans and stoppages.
DP World Australia is reporting that the strikes are having a devastating impact on operations and customers. The average delay for ships is now up to a week with some reports of ships waiting up to 12 days. Carriers have responded by skipping scheduled port calls and offloading cargo at different ports forcing customers to look for means to transship their containers between ports. DP World Australia warned that the situation would be getting worse for customers as the industrial action is stretched out.
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