Examination of Witnesses (440-459)|
18 JUNE 2003
FELL OBE, MR
Q440 Mr Randall: You reckon that
about 75% of industry employers are subscribing to your service.
Mr Fell: We have 134 subscribers,
some of whom are the larger port authorities covering more than
one port location. My previous employer, ABP, for example, has
some 22 locations. When you take into account the number of people
employed in the port industry, PSS, through its subscriber membership
represents about 75% of those employed.
Q441 Mr Randall: Of the 25% who are
not, would it be possible to categorise them? It is quite a wide
area with different types of organisations which might be subscribing.
Mr Fell: I have some statistics
here which might help in that. Some 45% are port and harbour authorities.
Q442 Mr Randall: Are these the ones
who subscribe or who do not subscribe?
Mr Fell: Who do subscribe. Thirty
per cent of those who subscribe are stevedores and terminal operators.
The balance are really local councils running leisure ports, training
providers, some shipping lines with an interest in running the
terminal within ports, labour supply companies, those sorts of
peripheral activity within the port.
Q443 Mr Randall: Where do you see
the gaps then?
Mr Bond: At the last hearing British
Ports Industry Training estimated that there are around 250 small
cargo handlers operating within the larger port areas. I would
suggest that quite a large number of those are not within our
Q444 Mr Randall: Why do you think
that might be?
Mr Bond: It is difficult to say.
That is one of the target areas that the Safer Ports Initiative
has drawn up. We are opening the Safer Ports Initiative
to everybody in the industry and we are trying to target those
particular organisations to join in.
Q445 Mr Randall: Do you go around
there and ask why they have not joined and find out what their
Mr Fell: We certainly take every
opportunity when they attend the regional launches to advertise
what we are doing, what we are about, and hope they might join.
Q446 Mr Randall: No feedback why
they do not think it is worth it?
Mr Fell: We have had 130 attendances
at these regional launches by people who are not members.
Q447 Chairman: How many have you
done? You have done Thames and where else?
Mr Fell: We have done Thames,
Mersey, Humber, Poole and next week we are doing Northern Ireland
and then we will go into Scotland and then into South Wales; fairly
wide coverage around the country.
Mr Pryke: We have raised approximately
£275,000 from our membership to run the organisation this
year. The minimum membership fee is £595. There are many
very small wharves and terminals for whom £595 is a lot of
money. That is the real reason why some of the very small organisations
do not join.
Q448 Mr Randall: So your subscription
is a flat rate, it is not done on the size of the organisations.
Mr Pryke: Yes, it is done on the
number of employees basically.
Q449 Mr Randall: But there is a minimum.
Mr Pryke: Yes.
Q450 Mr Randall: So you think they
might feel it is rather too much for them with the number of employees
Mr Pryke: Yes, I think that is
Q451 Mr Randall: Would it be a good
idea to address that problem to try to get them in?
Mr Pryke: It is a very difficult
one. We had great debate and negotiation with some of the larger
port organisations on subscriptions and we spent a lot of time
on it and we think we came up with a good balance. Everybody who
joins us has to pay.
Q452 Mr Randall: I am just thinking
that if you actually got half of that, £375 or £400
in from people who were not going to pay the full whack, you would
still be making more money.
Mr Fell: We certainly have not
closed our minds to that particular issue. The membership is under
constant review at every board meeting we have.
Q453 Mr Randall: It is just that
if that is a constraint on joining, if they could see the value
of it in terms of their own outgoings.
Mr Pryke: The only problem is
that we have many, many very small authorities, local authority
harbours, leisure ports, etcetera, who employ fewer than 20 people.
We have very many of those already in membership and if we reduced
it for somebody else, we would have to reduce it for them. So
you are on the law of diminishing returns. I do take your point.
Q454 Mr Randall: I am just wondering
how important you think it is to get the most number of people
in. That is really what it comes down to.
Mr Fell: We think we have pretty
good coverage with the leading ports within the United Kingdom
Major Ports Group and within the British Ports Association. We
think coverage is pretty wide, but obviously we would like to
make it even more extensive.
Q455 Mr Randall: For their benefit
or for getting more money in?
Mr Fell: We do need to have adequate
funds to run the organisation. No public money is going into PSS.
We need to be sure that we balance the books and give subscribers
good value and good service.
Q456 Mrs Ellman: Are you involved
in any lobbying or discussions on safety issues at the moment?
Mr Fell: We are working very closely
with HSE. The industry is working closer with HSE at strategic
level than it certainly has before in my experience since the
setting up of Ports Skills and Safety Ltd. There are one or two
initiatives where we are directly involved.
Mr Bond: In what respect do you
Q457 Mrs Ellman: In what way are
you trying to pursue changes? Are you involved in the discussions
on the dock regulations and approved code of practice?
Mr Bond: Yes, we are. One of our
predecessor organisations, the Ports Safety Organisation actually
worked with HSE during the discussions with the industry before
it was decided to review the code of practice. I know that has
actually happened and HSE has set up a steering group, on which
we sit, to oversee the review as well. From the industry's point
of view, we have set up a special work group to advise us on the
detail of the revision and that would be fed into HSE's consideration
when they develop the code of practice.
Q458 Mrs Ellman: Are you putting
forward any key issues?
Mr Bond: That policy at the moment
was decided quite a while ago, when the industry decided it would
like to see the structure retained as it was, as it is now currently,
but also update it in line with recent events, particularly through
new European legislation which has changed the approach to safety
somewhat and also to add in a section on health. That is where
things are at the moment.
Q459 Mrs Ellman: Would you say your
organisation is successful?
Mr Fell: It has certainly been
successful in retaining the majority of members of the former
Ports Safety Organisation and British Ports Industry Training.
That has taken quite some achievement to set up this new organisation
and get support. Its success will depend upon whether the targets
under the Safer Ports Initiative in reducing accidents
are achieved or not and we are only just one year into that. That
is what we are really all about: reducing the number of accidents
throughout the ports industry. You can only judge us on that in
the course of time. That is what we are trying to do: help to
reduce these accidents. I agree, with my 33 years' experience
in the ports industry, that ports are dangerous places. I agree
with the earlier statement.