DISRUPTION at DP World’s Australian container terminals has increased on Friday (12 January) as the company commenced its policy of not tolerating partial work bans in its ongoing dispute with the Maritime Union of Australia.

From Friday, DP World employees engaging in work bans will not receive wages until they return to their normal duties – this is in line with the company’s new stance announced on Monday (8 January) in what it said is a bid to stop the MUA from accelerating and prolonging industrial action.

Over the weekend the MUA cancelled some of its protected industrial action in an effort to “de-escalate and get the terminals moving,” according to a union spokesperson.

On Friday, a DP World spokesperson told DCN that workers at Port Botany had “refused to work”. Also, he said the company’s Melbourne operations would not open for road operations until this afternoon at 1400 due to industrial action.

Additionally, the company said there would be no receival and delivery operations on Friday at Fremantle. Operations are due to resume on Saturday at 0600.

Operations at DP World’s Brisbane terminal were also affected.

The escalation comes after several days of meetings between the two parties, which DCN understands ended without meaningful progress.

DP World executive vice-president Oceania Nicolaj Noes said government intervention is essential to breaking the deadlock.

“The MUA’s actions show they have little regard for Australian businesses and consumers and are effectively bringing trade to a standstill by refusing to negotiate on fair and sustainable terms in favour of protected industrial action. We have negotiated constructively and made concessions, but it’s clear the MUA is willing to inflict maximum damage to get what it wants,” Mr Noes said.

“The decision of employees, who have been encouraged by the MUA to continue to refuse to perform their duties is leading to loss of productivity and is devastating to our supply chain as well as economic output. Come Monday, delays on key items, such as meat, clothing and appliances, will be compounded. For business owners who are already having a tough time, it’s a monumental blow.”

Mr Noes said his company’s decision to not accept partial work bans has been necessitated by the imposition of continued bans and limitations applied on an hour by hour and day by day basis, which has made operating landside and waterside functions almost impossible.

“We were hopeful this step would have encouraged the MUA to withdraw their industrial action and negotiate in good faith, but sadly this hasn’t been the case,” he said.

“We are conscious that our hard-working employees are caught in the middle of this dispute and will be feeling financial strain. It’s in all parties’ best interest to get a deal done as quickly as possible.”.

In a message to customers, DP World vice-president commercial ports and terminals Oceania Ravi Sheshadri re-iterated the company’s call for the federal government to intervene in the dispute “following a severe escalation of industrial action that has seen DP World employees encouraged by the MUA to not work across the nation’s terminals”.

“This has today culminated in full work bans at DP World’s Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle terminals, while limited work is being performed at DP World’s Melbourne terminal, resulting in highly disrupted operations,” Mr Sheshadri said.

He said the ongoing industrial action would compound delays, which are already between two and eight weeks.

MUA assistant national secretary Adrian Evans said all delays and disruptions are the “sole responsibility of Nicolaj Noes”.

“The company’s representatives continue to push for cuts to wages and conditions at the direction of their paymasters, the Dubai government, and squandered three days of meetings held this week with misdirection and obstruction,” Mr Evans said.

“Customers of this multibillion-dollar company have every right to be frustrated with DP World’s refusal to negotiate, but the MUA will not be bullied by the Dubai government and nor should anybody.”