MHI Vestas makes MMD Shipping Services ditch bananas for wind energy.

A Portsmouth Port cargo firm has said 18 jobs have been saved after it won a contract to handle wind turbine blades.

MMD Shipping Services said the “multimillion-pound” deal with MHI Vestas was larger than a fruit-shipping contract it lost in 2017.

The decision by fruit importer Geest Line to move to Dover had threatened 58 out of the port’s 230 jobs.

Speaking to BBC MMD director Mike Sellers said 30 workers had volunteered to leave while 10 redundancies were compulsory.

The 10-year deal starts this spring and contracts MMD to collect 80m turbine blades from a new painting facility at Fawley, Hampshire, ready for shipping.

Mr Sellers said the wind turbine contract was a “game-changer” for MMD, which is owned by Portsmouth City Council.

“We are not out of the woods yet but we expect to be a positive contributor to the council’s finances,” he said.

He said the firm, which previously imported 70% of the UK’s bananas, had begun “significant restructuring”.

“We will still be number one for fruit but we want to diversify the business,” he said.

Some fruit warehouses will be removed and space will be developed to store 1,000 extra shipping containers, he added.

Stevedores, who had sometimes been at work when no ships were in port, were now on “flexible” contracts with no reduction in hours, Mr Sellers said.

There had also been “slight pay reductions” for some staff, while others had seen pay increases, he added.

 

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