What’s it like working as a Stevedore? Stevedores work round-the-clock shifts to load and unload cargoes to and from ships as safely and quickly as possible. As such, they are an important link in the supply chain that stretches from the consumer to the producer of the cargo. With cargo movement at ports generally a 24-hour, seven days a week job, Stevedores work in shift patterns to ensure that there is always cover on the dock when a ship needs to be loaded or unloaded. The work is manual in nature and can be physically demanding, and Stevedores can be out on the dock in all weathers. Stevedores may also spend some time inside in the ship’s hold or in cargo storage, which can be cramped and uncomfortable.
What kind of work can I do? The work of a Stevedore varies depending on the type of port. For example, at passenger ports, Stevedores will control and guide passengers and their vehicles as they pass through the port, while on roll-on/roll-off ferries, Stevedores may drive the vehicles that carry trailers on and off the ships. On container ports, Stevedores may use forklifts and cranes to handle cargo. In some ports the Stevedore has a wide range of responsibilities including the physical loading, securing and unloading of cargo, driving vehicles to transport cargo within the port, and operating highly technical loading and unloading equipment. However in other ports, the work may be narrower, for example some Stevedores work solely as crane drivers. Where can I work? Port authorities and private cargo handling or stevedoring companies employ Stevedores and Port Operatives. This means that there is a wide pool of potential employers at any one of the thousands of ports worldwide. Stevedores work as a team to safety and efficiently make cargo move.
How big is this sector? As world trade increases there is a growing demand for Stevedores internationally. However, Stevedores have come under increasingly pressure to improve work productivity, while the advent of fully automated terminal machinery has threatened some jobs. That said, there is a high level of job security as ports are essential for importing and exporting goods internationally.