By R. B. Oram and N. Skene Smith (Auth.)

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Sample text

The poor preparation of the ship's plan is a major, although hidden, cause of delay in turnround. The problem would be simple were the ship to load at a single port and discharge at only one destination; this very rarely happens. The plan that reaches the first port of discharge ahead of the ship is more likely to be an amalgam of the loading operations of a dozen ports. The scope for inaccuracy is multiplied a dozenfold. Then there may be the working alterations that have to be quickly made, and which cannot be avoided, when the vessel carries optional cargo, the destinations of which remain fluid even after discharge has commenced.

In passing, mention is made of a recent national agreement reducing the working week of the United Kingdom port worker from 44 to 42 hours. From the earliest national agreement made on 5 May 1920 until 27 August 1962 conditions had been simple. From Monday through to Friday there were two working periods, each of four hours; on Saturday one period only from 8 o'clock to 12 noon. e. m. m. (which men in the major ports did for the first few weeks) a more sensible interpretation followed. Work continued in places until noon, the men gaining overtime rates for the last two hours.

Apart from work in the holds of ships there is little protection against the wind and weather — estuarial ports suffer from the "funnelling" of the prevailing wind, particularly when it stays in the east for weeks at a time. He is expected to work through snow and, to a certain extent, rain; here the need to protect a vulnerable cargo often comes to his aid. Conditions under foot are very inferior to those in a dry factory. Although much has been done since 1945 to improve canteen conditions it remains true of many ports that the high spot on a bitterly cold morning is the ten minute huddle over a mug of tea around the "mobile" canteen.

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