Ports Authority cutting 17 positions, cites down global economy as reason

CHARLESTON, SC - CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina State Ports Authority announced Friday it would be reducing its staff of 491 by 17 positions in response to global economic conditions and declining revenues.

The reductions were spread across all areas of the organization, including management, administrative and operations positions as part of an effort to reduce expenses by $7 million over the coming year to get costs in line with the level of port activity.

In a release by the SCSPA, the cuts were called "a difficult but necessary staffing adjustment" to the ongoing global economic crisis. The group reported world shipping activity was down sharply last year.  As a result of weak economic conditions, the top shipping lines, who are the port's primary customers, lost approximately $20 billion in 2009.

The global economic crisis has required that ports, their customers and others in the supply chain streamline their operations and reduce expenses to remain on solid financial footing.  In South Carolina, numerous other companies and public agencies have reduced staffing in light of declining revenues.

The SCSPA too has suffered significant business losses.  The Port of Charleston's container shipping volume last year was down nearly 28 percent from 2008 and after four years of decline has reverted to 1997 levels.

Friday's staff reduction came after numerous other expense reductions, such as furloughs, a reduction of 14 positions in 2009, not filling vacant positions, deferring capital spending and a voluntary early separation program in December that 23 employees elected to take, said the Ports Authority.

These actions and Friday's reduction have reduced the employee count from 551 last June to 474.

The SCSPA is offering severance packages, outplacement services, workshops and other consultation to all impacted employees.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.