Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members at Patrick Stevedores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle will take protected industrial action in October. This follows more than 18 months of negotiations for a new enterprise agreement (EA).
The MUA said on September 27 that hundreds of its members will strike for 48 hours in Sydney’s Port Botany on October 2-3, and for 12 hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Melbourne for the month of October.
Patrick CEO Michael Jovicic claimed the union had “completely lost the plot” and was “embarking on a major pre-Christmas industrial campaign”. MUA national assistant secretary Jamie Newlyn criticised Jovicic’c “corporate spin”, saying management had made a series of exaggerated and untrue claims about the breakdown of talks over a new agreement.
Newlyn said Patrick’s claim to be losing markets is wrong. The company is making record profits, he said, by price gouging terminal access charges and other shipping fees.
“There is ample capacity for other stevedoring companies on the Australian waterfront to load and unload cargo”, Newlyn said, adding that the union’s protected industrial action will not threaten imported goods or Christmas presents.
Patrick had said it would “roll over” the existing EA, but this did not happen: it had insisted on workplace changes, including greater casualisation.
“Productivity is at a high and protected industrial action is a last resort to finalise an agreement that is almost 18 months past expiry”, Newlyn said. He added that Patrick employees are “frustrated” at “corporate tactics to deny a modest pay rise and remove previously agreed conditions on secure jobs”.
“Had the CEO not intervened in the Port Botany bargaining, agreement would have been reached locally.”