Automation: Australian maritime union battles DP World

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says they will take protected action against terminal operator DP World after they said the company refused to negotiate in good faith on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

MUA said they have been in talks with DP World for the past 10 months with the goal to maximize permanency and job security for their union members, however relations between the Union and DP World have become hostile and “trust among workers is at an all time low,” according to MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith.

As a result of the failed discussions, “MUA will begin light protected industrial action at DP World terminals in Melbourne, Sydney and Fremantle on Thursday due to the company’s insistence on taking away of penalty rates, increasing hours of work and their failure to adequately re-shape the workforce with the introduction of automation,” the Union said in a statement on their website.

MUA said DP World will lay off 12 full time workers at its Fremantle cargo facility by the end of December marking a decline of the permanent workforce from 200 to 40 as a result of increased levels of automation at the port.

“It’s not much of a Christmas present to be sacked by your employer without any reasonable justification. DP World is trying to take industrial relations back to the dark ages of the dreaded bull system,” said Smith.

“This dispute isn’t about money – it is about hours of work, job security, and automation of the waterfront with no fair redundancy provisions in place when hundreds of workers will get the sack. The proposals we have put to the company around automation deal with the manner in which automation is negotiated and introduced. Our main demands around automation are job-saving reductions in hours of work; and job security. We are also seeking transparency about automation plans in the future and dignified arrangements for those that will have to exit the industry and fairness in the approach to that process.” added Smith. 

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