Port Klang Northport withdraws Friday-prayer break

Following concerns from clients and the Port Klang Authority (PKA), Northport has withdrawn its policy to stop operations during Friday prayers.

In a circular issued yesterday, Northport CEO Rubani Dikon said the policy to suspend operations for 70 minutes to allow Muslim staff to perform their Friday prayer obligations would be reviewed.

The Edge Financial Daily yesterday reported concerns by port clients and the PKA who were caught unaware over the directive implemented last Friday.

Customers of Northport, including freight forwarders and logistics players, were worried that the move would adversely impact on business.

A circular issued on November 10 indicated that the Friday prayer break will commence at or around 12.40pm and end at 1.50pm, to help strike a better work-life balance among Northport’s 2,400 Muslim employees.

In a new circular yesterday, however, Rubani said Northport would continue with operations as normal without disruptions.

“After the first Friday prayer break trial, upon consultation with PKA, and feedback from customers and other stakeholders, the management of Northport (Malaysia) Bhd has decided to review the Friday prayer break,” he said.

At the same time, a guarantee was given by Northport’s parent company NCB Holdings Berhad’s group managing director Abi Sofian Abdul Hamid that it would not compromise on the needs of customers.

“We began implementing our two-month (November to December 2014) trial period last Friday and already we are reviewing the impact on our operations.

“They (Northport management) will look at all aspects and see whether the concerns of our customers as reported (by The Edge Financial Daily) are warranted.

“I know because it’s the start of something new many of our customers will get worried about the break and if it will affect their shipments. We will not allow this to happen because we don’t want our customers to run from us,” Abi said, adding that customer satisfaction came first.

Northport has a 90% Muslim workforce.

While clients have received the recent development with a sigh of relief, one former client had harsh words for the management.

“It’s a good thing I have moved my company vessels to Westports.  For us as a shipping line, an hour of delay translates to easily US$20,000 (RM66,000) in operational cost and lost opportunities,” said the senior shipping line executive.

“In shipping, delays would usually result in disruption in schedule where we miss a berth window at the next port.

“This would result in waiting time at anchorage hence additional bunker cost and daily charter cost,” said the executive who wished to remain anonymous.

He also said developed ports like the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) had strict berth window policies or first-in-first-out slots. – The Edge Financial Daily, November 18, 2014.

Source From: themalaysianinsider

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