THE MARITIME Union of Australia has given notice of further industrial action at the DP World container terminals in Australia in connection with ongoing negotiations on a new contract for port operations workers.
The industrial action was notified for DP World’s terminals in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle. It includes work stoppages from two to 24 hours in length and work bans of various lengths, including bans on overtime and extensions; loading or unloading trucks and trains; work on any subcontracted vessel; and “servicing any trucks with a Qube logo”.
Workers at the terminals are already in a period of industrial action, having given notice on 29 September of work stoppages and bans at the four terminals starting on 6 October.
In a statement, DP World said the industrial action already undertaken by the MUA has already had “significant operational consequences”.
The company said the industrial action had caused disruptions to berthing arrangements and adversely impacted landside services, including both road and rail.
“DP World is actively looking into alternatives to ensure that vessels are serviced efficiently to maintain scheduling commitments,” the company’s statement said.
“Since the bans initiated by the CFMEU-MUA division on 6 October 2023, there has been a considerable strain on the supply chain, jeopardising service efficiency and having cascading effects on our customers and the Australian households at large.”
The company said it had consistently approached negotiations with goodwill; it said it has shown flexibility and made concessions “where appropriate” over the past six months of enterprise bargaining.
“Our attempts to move forward in the EBA negotiations have been met with resistance. Our recent meetings with the MUA on the 27-28 September 2023 saw little advancement, a situation we find disheartening,” the company said.
“Although further discussions are scheduled for 17-19 October 2023, they are conditional upon the CFMEU-MUA division ceasing its protected industrial actions. Not only has the union declined this prerequisite, but they have also declared an intensification of bans and work disruptions effective from 15 October 2023.”
The company said acceptance of all the union’s claims would inflict “significant financial damage in unrecoverable costs on our business, affecting our clientele, the Australian supply chain and ultimately the Australian public. Our operations cannot bear these costs and restrictions and remain competitive in the market”.
“While we respect the right to industrial action, its current trajectory will, regrettably, only harm our workers through lost wages and impact the wider community through service disruptions,” the company said.
“We remain dedicated to finding a resolution and are available to meet in the suggested timeframes. However, for the sake of constructive dialogue, we hope the CFMEU-MUA division will reconsider its decision and suspend any planned industrial action during the negotiation period. Our commitment remains to serve the Australian public and ensure that disruptions are minimised.”
The last time DP World stevedores’ contracts expired, it took two and a half years of negotiations until workers voted in favour of the new enterprise bargaining agreements in February 2021 after coming to an in-principle deal in October 2020. The negotiation process had been winding down since late August 2020 when the two sides reached agreement on part of the EBA.
The MUA has been contacted for comment.