THE Maritime Union of Australia is taking industrial action at Svitzer’s operations in Brisbane and far-north Queensland. The protected industrial action commenced on Monday and is to continue through Friday, 17 September.

In Brisbane, the action includes a work stoppage for four hours starting at 0700 on Monday.

Also at Brisbane, there is also a “ban on the performance of any work from 10 hours after the shift commencement time, commencing from 12:01 am on Tuesday 14 September 2021 until 11:59 pm on Thursday 30 September 2021”.

And for Cairns, Mourilyan and Lucinda, daily stoppages of work from 1000 to 1400 commenced on Monday and are due to continue through Friday 17 September.

A Svitzer Australia spokesperson told DCN the continued protected industrial action in Australian ports only causes further uncertainty and disruption to our colleagues, customers and stakeholders at a critical time when we need to keep goods moving.

“Svitzer expects to largely be able to mitigate the risk of disruption by adjusting schedules and taking on the additional costs. We will continue to review schedules and crewing requirements to minimise any potential disruption, working directly with customers and stakeholders in the ports,” the spokesperson said.

“Svitzer remains committed to bargaining in good faith to secure a new enterprise agreement, which maintains high salaries and core conditions and ensures a strong, sustainable foundation to continue to provide safe, efficient, and reliable towage services.”

MUA assistant national secretary Jamie Newlyn said MUA members have been bargaining for a new enterprise agreement with Svitzer since September 2019.

“Our members working for Svitzer have not had a pay rise in over two years despite keeping Australia’s Supply Chains functioning during the worst global pandemic in over 100 years,” he said.

“We almost reached agreement, then COVID hit and Svitzer removed its offer and demanded concessions adding 30 new claims that would strip conditions of employment, some of which were won 30 years ago.”

Mr Newlyn said MUA members are seeking to protect conditions that “go back decades” and do not have any major claims on the table.

“MUA members are rightly frustrated at the delays and are taking reasonable steps under provisions of the Fair Work Act to take legal Protected Industrial Action approved by the Fair Work Commission,” he said.

In a customer update, Svitzer said over the past year it had reduced its claims down to less than 10 in a bid to progress negotiations and reach an agreement.

“It is only the claims we see as absolutely necessary that remain,” the company said in the update.