Maritime Union reaches new agreement with Patrick Stevedores

Photo: Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney branch / Facebook

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has reached an in-principle agreement with Patrick Stevedores on a four-year enterprise agreement. It comes after two years of campaigning by the MUA and the company threatening to go to the courts to cancel the agreement and throw 1000 waterfront workers back to basic conditions.

“The new enterprise agreement … will deliver pay increases above industry standard, job security assurances as well as fairness and dignity for hard working members at Patrick’s four terminals around Australia,” MUA assistant national secretary Jamie Newlyn said.

Despite a misinformation campaign by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Productivity Commission and even Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Newlyn said the union had always sought to work with Patrick Terminals to develop a new agreement.

“This agreement provides for above industry wage outcomes, increases job security, provides stability, and enhances certainty and security around rosters and hours of work,” Newlyn said on February 7.

The key outcomes include: a 4% initial wage rise effective from January 1; a 2.5% pay rise or CPI (whichever is higher) on January 1 in each of 2023, 2024 and 2025; sign-on bonus of $3000 for permanent workers; sign on bonus of $1500 for casual workers; changes to protect and provide certainty around rosters and hours of work; enhancing job security and permanency; no job cuts via automation; contractor commitments to provide greater job security by preventing work performed by Patrick employees to be contracted out.

MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul Keating told Green Left on February 9 that after the agreement had been finalised, it would be put to the membership for a final decision.

Asked about reports claiming the union’s power of veto over hiring had been scrapped, Keating said they were false. “The aim of our recruitment approach is directed at increasing employment opportunities for women, Indigenous people and other sectors ... Our union has always fought for secure jobs to wider sections of society. These false claims are ideological.”

Keating said that the federal government had wanted the dispute to provide it with an “industrial relations election campaign”. That has been defeated, he said, be “preparing our members to defend their rights and conditions to the hilt”.

“We called for and received solidarity from across the world, warning that the company and the Australian government wanted a massive industrial dispute just like the 1998 Patrick lock-out.”

Keating said the International Dockers Council and the International Transport Federation and other international unions had shown strong solidarity and he thanked them as well as the Australia’s trade unions and its rank and file members for their support.

“I have nothing but admiration for the MUA delegates and members of the bargaining committee for placing themselves in the political firing line in the course of this struggle,” Keating concluded.