PORT of Melbourne risks being an international laughing stock if a picket at Webb Dock continues, the Victorian Transport Association says.
The picket outside Victoria International Container Terminal has lasted 10 days and has blocked truck access.
“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA,” said VTA chief executive Peter Anderson.
“The effects of this ongoing action at our busiest time of the year are being felt right throughout the economy when you consider that the more than 1000 containers and their contents sitting idle at Webb Dock cannot be brought to market.”
The Maritime Union has consistently denied involvement for the picket, ascribing responsibility to the Port Melbourne community, a stance rejected by VICT and business groups.
Mr Anderson said not only were VICT and hundreds of freight operators affected, so too were hundreds of small business operators and their families.
“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states,” Mr Anderson said.
“The real risk as we see it is the long-term reputational and economic damage the action will create for Victoria as a place to do business.”
Mr Anderson implored all stakeholders to put the interests of the Victorian economy first.
Fellow industry body, the Container Transport Alliance Australia, called on picketers to give Victorians a Christmas present and allow trucks to collect the stranded containers on the docks.
Director Neil Chambers said CTAA understood ships originally destined for VICT had been diverted to the Patrick Terminal at East Swanson.
“Importantly though, there are approximately a thousand containers still stuck inside VICT,” Mr Chambers said.
“It’s time, the MUA, CMFEU and other unions involved in the blockade give Victorians an early Christmas present and allow empty trucks to enter VICT to collect the stranded containers.”