PROTECTED industrial action at DP World’s Australian terminals will continue through at least 4 December according to the latest notifications from Maritime Union of Australia.
The union began industrial action in early October after negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement collapsed.
And, due to a cyberattack, DP World’s landside operations shut down on 10 November and operations resumed early the following week. Shortly after operations resumed, the union gave notice of further protected industrial action.
Stoppages and bans
This most recent notification of protected industrial action includes work bans and work stoppages at DP World’s terminals in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
There are various work bans and stoppages at all four terminals, including several consecutive days of two-hour stoppages commencing at regular intervals three times each day at Brisbane, Melbourne and Fremantle. There are similar, one-hour stoppages at Sydney.
There was also a 24-hour work stoppage announced for Brisbane starting on 2 December at 1500.
At Sydney, there will be two 24-hour work stoppages starting at 0600 on 24 and 27 November.
At all the terminals, there are bans on working ships for eight hours after they arrive.
“Out of step with economic context”
A spokesperson for DP World said the protected industrial action initiated by the MUA is causing substantial disruptions to our nation’s supply chain.
“This not only affects Australian exporters and importers but also has far-reaching impacts on everyday Australian households,” the spokesperson said.
“With the Christmas season approaching, these delays – currently spanning 15-20 days – are becoming increasingly detrimental, threatening both the festive spirit and economic stability.”
The DP World spokesperson said: “In the midst of ongoing negotiations, the Maritime Union of Australia’s demand for a 27.5% pay increase appears significantly out of step with the Australian economic context, especially considering the average earnings of $144,000. This level of increase is not just unprecedented but also unsustainable in the current economic climate”.
The spokesperson said the ongoing impasse, if not resolved even with the involvement of the Fair Work Commission, poses a significant risk of exacerbating the situation.
“As a key component of Australia’s critical infrastructure, we believe in the importance of responsible and constructive negotiation. However, the MUA’s approach, which has shown a reluctance to modify their 300 claims, leans more towards economic disruption rather than productive dialogue. Their tactics, which can be perceived as militant, are causing considerable strain on our supply chain and contributing to rising inflation through extended delivery times,” the DP World spokesperson said.
The union said it has 58 claims in the national scope of the agreement.
The DP World spokesperson said: “We urge the Maritime Union of Australia to reconsider their stance and engage in a more pragmatic and balanced negotiation process, one that aligns with the broader interests of the Australian economy and its people.”
MUA national secretary Adrian Evans said DP World’s claim that the union was seeking a 27.5% pay increase does not describe the union’s position.
“This claim is a nonsense which rolls together a series of annual pay increases with legislated increases to the superannuation guarantee into a consolidated sum that by the Union’s reckoning includes lawful minimum employment standards like sick leave, long service leave and employer-borne costs like training and workers compensation premiums,” Mr Evans said.
“Even with all that added together still cannot get anywhere close to the nonsense figures being bandied about by the company.”
Mr Evans said the union seeks a two-year agreement of 8% in each year, which he said would bring DP World workers closer to the industry benchmark. He said wharfies at Patrick are paid more than workers at DP World, a gap that would increase when CP increases are applied at Patrick in the new year.
“The majority of our members are classified as ‘Variable Salary Employees’ who are only guaranteed a minimum annual salary of $81,335 per annum, and this requires them to work without a set roster or certainty about the number or pattern of shifts they’re directed to work,” Mr Evans said.
“Wharfies are some of the most flexible, adaptive and productive workers in the country who perform hard, physical work throughout the day and night, seven days a week, in all weather conditions, and are committed to delivering at the frontlines of our supply chain in the national interest.”
Six days of meetings
Mr Evans said the union and DP World went to the Fair Work Commission last week to break the impasse in negotiations.
“We have locked in six days of meetings which the company had previously refused to schedule with us,” he said.
“The company has spent the last nine months deliberately derailing, deferring and cancelling negotiations with the union.”
This article has been updated to include comment from the MUA.