Sunday 18th Nov, 2018

Union talks tough in Darwin

Photo: Ashleigh Telford
Photo: Ashleigh Telford

THE maritime division of the CFMMEU has warned it could disrupt operations at the Port of Darwin if the Port’s operator, Landbridge, does not “come to the table”.

The union said in a statement workers are seeking a 3% pay rise per year and for Landbridge to provide income protection in lieu of the “reduced job security as a result of privatisation”.

MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith said the workers claims were “just and reasonable” and reflect an understanding of the new private operating environment in the port.

“Workers have listened to the company’s arguments but they are not listening to their workforce who have worked tirelessly to see a seamless transition to private ownership in the Port of Darwin,” he said.

“It is fundamentally wrong that privatisation has led to a showdown with the workforce when there has never been industrial action in the public port authority.”

A spokesperson for Darwin Port said Darwin Port was surprised by the claims made by the Maritime Union, “given it has put forward a pay offer which is above the CPI and has sought no productivity offsets in the offer”.

“The current economic climate in the Northern Territory does not support any increases beyond the offer; recent announcements by the Northern Territory Government in relation to restricting its future wage increases to 2.5% to reflect this.”

The spokesperson said the company had been working closely with its workforce to negotiate a new enterprise bargaining agreement since the beginning of the year, as the existing agreement expired on 30 June of this year.

“Under the new EBA Darwin Port staff conditions of employment would remain in line with previous arrangements,” the spokesperson said.

“The agreement also removes complex references to Northern Territory Government policies and processes. To date, Darwin Port and its employees have been able to reach agreement on the majority of the areas that required amendment.”

Continuing, the spokesperson said there had been no reduction in employee numbers since the port was privatised.

“Darwin Port is currently recruiting, demonstrating a commitment to growth. Two new apprentices, the first hired in four years, will join the team over the next few weeks,” the spokesperson said.

“Darwin Port will continue to work with its employees to ensure the new EBA is introduced as soon as possible.”

The port’s privatisation was announced in 2015, with the Chinese company Landbridge paying $509m for a 99-year lease over the port.

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