THE Maritime Union carried out protected industrial action at the Port of Brisbane on Saturday, and it also gave notice of further action at the terminal next week. 

The new notices of protected industrial action at HPA’s Brisbane terminal include: 

  • four consecutive four-hour stoppages of work from 0700 am Tuesday 22 June until 2300 Tuesday 22 June, 
  • two consecutive four-hour stoppages from 0700 Wednesday 23 June until 1500 Wednesday 23 June, and  
  • two consecutive four-hour stoppages from 0700 Thursday 24 June until 1500 Thursday 24 June. 

A spokesperson for HPA told the DCN that “from the company’s view, it has been extremely generous in its offering of a new enterprise bargaining agreement. 

“The company has put on the table what it considers many favourable benefits to its employees, highlighted by a 12.5% pay rise over the next four years, which for many of its employees is on a base salary of $145,000 to $170,000 per annum for a 33-hour week.” 

The spokesperson said that partly to deliver this outcome, the company has proposed to arrange working shifts so that the business operates continuously over each eight-hour shift “rather than ceasing operations for an hour every shift while the entire workforce stops for a communal coffee break”.

“The company has also agreed to the union’s demand for employee job security over the life of the EBA. The company has asked that talks continue without interruption to the business and harm to the supply chain. However, the union has opted to punish the company by taking severe industrial action with stop works and bans,” the spokesperson said. 

“After two and half years of talks, and the company agreeing to give employees benefits that will amount to over 12% more in costs per annum, the union still insists on taking industrial action to get even more than what we consider has been fairly and generously been offered.” 

The union declined to comment on ongoing negotiations.

A matter of timing 

There has been controversy around the notifications for this weekend.

Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) has raised concerns from transport operators and their customers about the lack of notice of yard closures and truck appointment zone cancellations at the Hutchison Brisbane Terminal caused by PIAs. 

DCN understands the short notification period stems from a dispute about workers being paid during the protected industrial action. 

CTAA director Neil Chambers said he appreciates that protected industrial actions are occurring lawfully as most of the container stevedoring companies in Australia are still negotiating EA settlements. 

“What’s not appreciated though is when a stevedore company doesn’t take all steps practicable to let landside logistics stakeholders know as well in advance as possible what disruptions are likely to occur,” he said. 

“The Commonwealth Fair Work Act specifies that the union must give three days’ written notice of any planned action to the employer, and the written notice must specify the nature of the action and the day it will start.” 

Mr Chambers said HPA only this morning published a full copy of the MUA PIA notification regarding actions to occur from Saturday 12 June, along with the further actions on the 22, 23 and 24 June.  

“We take it from this publication that the MUA provided its notification to HPA in accordance with the written notice period required under the act,” he said.  

“Despite this, transport operators in Brisbane, and their customers, were not told that HPA Brisbane Terminal operations had ceased, and truck appointments were cancelled until Monday morning (15 June), and again this morning (16 June).” 

“It needs to be highlighted that this lack of notice to transport operators and their customers in Brisbane has caused significant added costs and time delays.”