THE Maritime Union of Australia announced today that wharfies at Qube’s Port of Newcastle facility would impose work bans from midnight tonight (August 10) for the next two weeks.
The Union said the move comes after Qube management holding “secret” meetings with workers, offering them permanent positions for a 10.5% wage cut.
A Qube spokesperson told Lloyd’s List Australia that its Newcastle business was currently unviable and the company was seeking a reduction in pay rates as part of ongoing attempts to allow operations to continue.
“The pay offer will bring Qube into line with its main competitor Newcastle Stevedores which has lower pay scales agreed with the MUA a couple of years ago,” the spokesperson said.
“The higher pay structure has meant that Qube Ports has been unable to win business based on price in Newcastle for several years.”
MUA Newcastle Branch secretary Glen Williams said none of the members accepted the deal.
“What Australian household can afford to cop a 10.5% cut to their earnings, let alone absorb reductions to their superannuation and other work conditions?” he asked.
The Qube spokesperson said the enterprise agreement at Newcastle expired in 2015 and Qube has been in negotiations with the MUA and employees for more than two years to reach a new EA.
“Qube is continuing to negotiate and further talks are scheduled next week,” they said.
“There are approximately 30 permanent and part time positions affected.”
A statement from the Union said the Qube workforce had decided unanimously not to return to work until a new deal is struck if the company terminates their existing agreement.