Minister gets facts wrong on Fremantle Port strike

October 10, 2012

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) released the statement below on October 11.

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West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell needs to take the time to learn the basic facts about the dispute between workers at Fremantle Port and their employer before making incorrect claims about the merits of workers’ claims.

MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said lives have been lost on the waterfront in recent times, including a tragic fatality only days ago in Newcastle, and the safety of workers needs to be prioritised.

“The Minister would do well to investigate the concerns of workers to avoid further fatalities on the Australian waterfront,” Bray said. "The MUA makes no apologies for working to deliver safety for workers on the waterfront.

“Minister Buswell is making false claims that workers are seeking a 20% increase in wages in addition to the changed roster but that is incorrect and is a complete misrepresentation of the workers’ claims.

“For Minister Buswell, a senior minister in the West Australian government, to get basic facts incorrect about the workers’ concerns indicates either incompetence or a decision to misrepresent the truth.

“Instead of politicising and making a mockery of good faith bargaining, the Minister should allow Fremantle Port to continue negotiations and stop mispresenting the MUA’s bargaining position in the media.”

Assistant secretary of the West Australian Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, Will Tracey, says the rosters need to be changed to protect the safety of workers.

“To set the record straight, Fremantle Port workers are asking for the same conditions as all other workers on the Kwinana Bulk Terminal strip, to address serious safety concerns that have come about as a result of excessively long hours,” Tracey said.

“Fremantle Port knows that the workers have safety concerns and yet they continue to hide behind minister Buswell and let him dictate the negotiations instead of trying to find a solution to the problem.

“The Maritime Union of Australia has met with Fremantle Port to try to negotiate an agreement in good faith so we can end the industrial action and we will continue to meet until we achieve a fair agreement.

“Fremantle Port workers are exercising their rights to hold a legally protected strike and we believe it is important to do so to protect workers’ safety."

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