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THE Maritime Union of Australia has issued notices of protected industrial action for its members employed by Svitzer at the Western Australian ports of Fremantle and Kwinana.

These come after 12 hours of work stoppages at Svitzer operations in Melbourne and Westernport on Friday.

The newly announced protected industrial action in WA involves two 24-hour work stoppages, one on Thursday 15 July and the second on Saturday 17 July. Both are to begin at 0700.

A spokesperson for Svitzer Australia said the MUA’s campaign of industrial action now includes 31 PIA notices.

“Svitzer is disappointed the MUA continues to take protected industrial action which is adversely impacting shipping movements in ports across Australia and contributing to delays to the import and export of critical goods and supplies,” the spokesperson said.

“Svitzer is also concerned that on several occasions this week the MUA appears to have suggested it is taking this action in response to an unrelated business decision made by Svitzer in the Port of Geelong.”

The Svitzer spokesperson said despite the company seeking “modest” change, the MUA continues to pursue its “aggressive” agenda with more industrial action.

“Industrial action is not the answer to our shared problems. Nor can it be justified by the MUA who represent employees who earn over $100,000.00 for an even-time roster, meaning they work about 26 weeks a year,” the spokesperson said.

“Over the last year, through ongoing negotiation sessions with the unions, we have reduced our claims from 30 down to less than 10. These remaining claims do not go after employees’ high salaries or even-time roster but are aimed at reducing unnecessary costs to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging market.”

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The Svitzer spokesperson said a new enterprise agreement is needed. That agreement will allow the company to compete in the future while continuing to offer good jobs.

“This can only be achieved around the negotiating table,” the spokesperson said.

“Despite this, the MUA is unwilling to negotiate on matters such as minimum engagement times for casuals and fixed and unnecessary crewing on vessels working out of port limits, which will render Svitzer uncompetitive in an increasingly competitive market.

“We are simply seeking to pay employees for the work that is done. Continuing to pay casuals for two days when only four hours is needed threatens our ability to remain competitive and secure future jobs for our employees.”

The spokesperson said the company continues to meet with the unions and there are further sessions planned during this coming week.

“We are committed bargaining in good faith with the unions to negotiate a new enterprise agreement that will put us on a sustainable footing in the long-term so we can continue to offer good jobs and high salaries to the union’s members,” the spokesperson said.

“We continue to work closely with affected customers and port stakeholders regarding possible contingencies for shipping services, and to understand the extent of the impact this will have on Australian supply chains.”

The MUA was contacted for comment.

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