THE MARITIME Union of Australia, a division of the CFMMEU, has given notice of industrial action at DP World terminals, starting on 6 October, in connection with ongoing negotiations on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

The industrial action includes work bans and work stoppages (some for a full 24 hours) at DP World’s terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle and Brisbane.

In a statement, DP World said it recognises the “right to freedom of association” but it noted the “significant impact such actions have on the national economy and supply chain”.

DP World executive vice-president for Oceania Nicolaj Noes said the company is committed to keeping Australia’s economy moving and minimise disruption while working to achieve a swift resolution on the enterprise agreement in the coming weeks.

“We remain dedicated to a co-operative and productive dialogue with CFMEU-MUA Division. Parties have invested more than 90 hours in ongoing discussions to reach a national agreement,” he said.

Sticking points

The union said it was fighting for a “decent pay rise that recognises the significant financial pressures workers and their families face”.

The union claimed that DP World managers were “pushing for wage cuts of up to 32% and roster changes that would see family life suffer across its entire permanent workforce”.

MUA assistant national secretary Adrian Evans said the union is fighting for a fair work-life balance, safety dignity and respect, as well as removal of ambiguity in the agreement.

“All of our demands during the bargaining process come under those four, crucial and completely reasonable headings. To refuse them is indefensible in the current environment,” Mr Evans said.

The union said its members delivered a 99%-100% yes vote to every protected industrial action question across all four Australian DP World terminals, with a 92% participation rate in the ballots.

“The MUA has just concluded another two days attempting to negotiate DP World’s managers, where we managed to get agreement on a couple of minor drafting issues, but the company still refuses to move on the bulk of our claims and continues to push its own aggressive attacks on workers’ pay and conditions through its original log of claims,” Mr Evans said.

“A further three days of bargaining meetings are scheduled for 17-19 October, but given the lack of movement yet again and the fact the current agreement expires tomorrow, we have notified the company that we will be taking protected industrial action nationally starting next week. This is intended to give management a push along and bring them back to the negotiating table with an improved spirit of co-operation and respect for the serious claims their workforce is bringing to them,” Mr Evans said.

The union applied to the Fair Work Commission in early September to take the protected industrial action.

Negotiations for new port operations agreements, which cover stevedores, began in April this year. The current agreements reach their nominal expiry dates on 30 September.

New roster model

In its statement, DP World said it had maintained transparent communication lines with partners and customers, updating them on the potential for disruptions and allowing them to make alternative arrangements if required.

Mr Noes said work practices that ensure an even spread of availability across seven days are a critical element of catering to the flexible and round-the-clock operations of both our customers’ and the nation’s intricate supply chain – especially during peak periods such as the lead up to Christmas.

The company’s statement said one of the important changes it needs to deliver is new rosters for its operations and maintenance teams working at the four terminals in Australia.

DP World said it had proposed and advised of the introduction of new rosters to representatives of the union and its employees. The company said the rosters are designed to improve the flexibility in deployment of frontline resources to meet customer requirements.

“Shifting to a new roster model will enable us to better meet customer needs, adapt to changing vessel schedules, and align with industry expectations,” Mr Noes said.

“Current rosters do not provide an even spread of availability across seven days per week to match our customers’ needs, with the majority of weekend work falling to a single group of employees.

“Our goal is to establish a more balanced roster model, which will drive more certainty, minimise unexpected changes and ensure more equitable skills distribution,” Mr Noes said.

“We understand that changes in work patterns can impact personal lives, but we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition by providing ample notice.”

DP World said that in the stevedoring industry, rosters and employment terms have traditionally been designed based on shift durations, with salaries and award bonuses mirroring these roster designs.

DP World projects that with the suggested roster changes, employees maintaining similar work schedules as in the past will receive equivalent, and occasionally even higher, take-home pay compared to the current rostering system.

The company claims that no employee’s base rate of pay would go backwards.

More than 100 hours of discussions

DP World said, as of Friday 29 September, there had been 28 meetings, with 118 hours of discussions and “there seems to be a trend towards one-sided negotiations,” the company said.

“There have been 363 claims made nationally by the CFMEU-MUA Division. If the majority of these claims are agreed to, it would severely limit the efficiency of the Australian supply chain, with the ultimate cost being passed onto the Australian consumer.”

Mr Noes said: “DP World is steadfast in its dedication to forging a win-win agreement with CFMEU-MUA Division. Our focus lies in enhancing productivity, service delivery, and addressing the needs of our workforce. We earnestly request the union to partake in positive discussions to safeguard the wider Australian economic landscape and supply chain.”

List of work bans

Below is a list of bans, according to DP World, that the union will be taking from 6 October, as of 29 September.

DP World Sydney

7 October 2023 (0600 hours) – Bans begin for:

  • Any work on ships for 8 hours after berthing
  • Attending work when called past usual notification time
  • Advanced or delayed starts
  • Fixed Salary Employees (FSEs) not working as per specific rosters
  • Performance of work outside of roster panel assigned on 4 September 2023
  • Work on subcontracted vessels
  • Taking delayed or advanced meal breaks

9 October to 13 October 2023 (0600 to 2200 hours) – Bans include:

  • Overtime
  • Shift extensions
  • Upgrades on dayshift

DP World Melbourne

8 October 2023 (1200 hours onwards) – Bans and stoppages include:

  • 24-hour work stoppage
  • Bans on work for ships for 8 hours after berthing, attending late calls, advanced or delayed starts, grade 7 work, FSE’s non-specific rostered shifts, and work outside of roster panel assigned on 4 September 2023

9 to 13 October 2023 – Bans include:

  • Overtime and shift extensions (from 0001 hours 9 Oct to 2359 hours 13 Oct)
  • 12-hour work stoppage on 9 Oct at 1200 hours
  • 8-hour work stoppage on 10 Oct starting 0001 hours
  • 24-hour ban on loading/unloading trucks and trains starting 0600 hours on 13 Oct

15 to 20 October 2023 – Multiple work stoppages and bans, most notably including:

  • Four 1-hour consecutive stoppages starting 1800 hours on 15 Oct
  • Two consecutive 2-hour stoppages starting 0600 hours on 16 Oct
  • Several 8-hour upgrade bans on specific dates
  • Overtime and shift extensions ban from 16 to 20 Oct

DP World Fremantle

6 October 2023 (0600 hours onwards) – Bans and stoppages include:

  • 24-hour work stoppage
  • Overtime, shift extensions, work on ships for 8 hours after berthing, attending late calls, advanced or delayed starts, grade 7 work, FSE’s non-specific rostered shifts, work outside of roster panel assigned on 4 September 2023, work on subcontracted vessels, delayed or advanced meal breaks, and work on public holidays

7 October 2023:

  • Multiple work stoppages ranging from 4 hours to 12 hours throughout the day

DP World Brisbane

7 October 2023 (0700 hours onwards) – Bans include:

  • Work on ships for 8 hours after berthing, advanced or delayed starts, work during another employee’s rest period from the proposed agreement, work on subcontracted vessels, FSE’s non-specific rostered shifts, work outside of roster panel assigned on 4 September 2023, early or later meal breaks, and attending 4-hour shifts except for training or meetings

9 to 13 October 2023 (0700 to 2300 hours) – Bans include:

  • Overtime
  • Shift extensions
  • Deployment of more than two ship crane gangs on dayshift