Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports in Sydney and Brisbane are set for a crucial vote on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) on November 16. The vote takes place after 100 days of community assemblies at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane, following the controversial sacking by text and email of 97 workers at the two ports on August 6.
Despite a court ruling ordering the reinstatement of the sacked workers, Hutchison has refused to allow them inside the terminal gates, although it continues to pay them their basic pay rate. Talks between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the company have resulted in a new draft EBA, which is subject to a membership vote on November 16.
The company has called for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancies, prior to the EBA vote being taken.
Paul, one of the sacked Hutchison workers, who regularly attends the assembly at Port Botany, told Green Left Weekly on November 13: "For us, there is no reason for the company to impose forced redundancies.
"If Hutchisons go down that path, and the EBA is voted down, there could be protected industrial action to follow. An important part of the maintenance of the community assembly for all this time is that it will still be here as a base if protected action is needed.
"It has been vital that the support of other unions and international solidarity has been strong. This international support gives us the extra industrial leverage in facing a world-wide stevedoring company such as Hutchisons."
Daniel, another sacked Hutchison worker at the Port Botany assembly, said: "At least we've finally got something on the table. And it's a lot better than we had at the start, which was basically nothing."