Australian: Unionised port workers declare industrial action

Australian: Unionised port workers declare industrial action


Unionised workers have voted to undertake protected industrial action at Patrick, Hutchinson, and DP World terminals at Brisbane, Freemantle, Sydney, and Melbourne in Australia after negotiations on a new enterprise agreement broke down with the employers.

The decision followed the approval from the Fair Work Commission to unions to hold the ballot.

Patrick Terminal will see work stoppages of up to 24 hours on multiple days in the first half of September across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Fremantle Patrick Terminals.

Container shipping major OOCL said that these work stoppages and those expected at other terminal operator locations will both disrupt schedule integrity in September and have a cascading impact into October due to the delays as vessels return back to Asia.

“The delays experienced around the Australian coast over the past month have impacted all shipping lines vessel schedules upon their return back to Asia. Subsequently, this has & will cause further delays and congestion on most services departing Asia for Australia in September,” OOCL said in a customer advisory.

“OOCL will continue to use change of port rotation options around the Australian coast on our established services in order to minimise delays.”

Protected industrial action has been declared for Brisbane for 24 hours at the DP World terminal on Sunday 13 September, Shipping Australia Limited said.

The shipowner association added that industrial action on the waterfront was causing increasing disruption to the movement of ships and the movement of vital goods.

According to the association, at least two ship voyages have been delayed, one for five and another one for seven days, resulting in massive costs.

As disclosed, the approximate cost of a day’s delay for a container ship can be about $25,000 a day. A five-day delay could therefore cost about $125,000.

“We are even now hearing of the potential for ships to be delayed by up to 18 days! If that happens, the resulting direct costs could blow out to half a million dollars per ship!” Shipping Australia Limited added.

“It was entirely predictable that nationally co-ordinated protected industrial action would disrupt the supply chain and would lead to increased costs and delays to vitally needed cargoes such as foodstuffs, medicines, medical equipment, medical supplies and everyday goods in the shops.”

The association said if the situation persists shipping would come to a standstill, calling on the unions, industrial relations, and governments to resolve the dispute and end the industrial action.

The industrial action is being announced just days after the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said that Svitzer Australia tug crews employed at dozens of ports around Australia were about to vote on potential industrial action as a response to stalled talks on a new workplace agreement with their employer.

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