THE MARITIME Union of Australia has backed down on some of its protected industrial action at DP World.

The union has withdrawn some partial work bans and work stoppages through 22 January at all DP World terminals in Australia.

DP World executive vice-president Oceania Nicolaj Noes said the company’s ability to operate its terminals is “severely impacted” and more than 50,000 containers are in backlog.

“Even if PIA stopped today (15 January 2024), it would take months to clear the backlog which is incredibly concerning for Australian consumers and businesses,” Mr Noes said.

“While the MUA withdrew select bans this morning (15 January 2024), severe forms of PIA remain ongoing that make it practically impossible to run our operations and clear the backlog. There continues to remain the threat that the MUA will ramp up PIA as it suits their agenda over the coming weeks.”

Mr Noes said the MUA’s recent offer does not get the parties any closer to a deal, as the union has made no material concessions.

“The terms put forward by the MUA are not financially sustainable, and they continue to demand unreasonable and excessive control of our operations,” he said.

“Further, the MUA’s insistence on a two-year deal timeframe is concerning. If accepted, we could be back in negotiations with the MUA about a new deal in a matter of months.”

Over the weekend, MUA assistant national secretary Adrian Evans insisted the union’s position in the negotiation is “fair, reasonable and sustainable”.

“We are asking for measures to deliver a decent wage to hard working Australian employees of this global behemoth, plus bolster crucial safety and fatigue management clauses that Dubai Ports’ managers have tried desperately to get rid of from the agreement,” he said.

The union said in a statement the proposal for a two-year agreement (from the expiry of the current agreement) was to “rectify the inflationary impact on the 2.5% pay rise workers received in 2022, deal with the fact there has been no pay rise in 2023 and look toward an expiry in late 2025 when it is clearer that inflation has stabilised”.

The union said it would be prepared to move to a three-year term if “the package was attractive and dealt with the uncertainty [a]round inflation”.

A spokesperson for DP World on Monday afternoon said out of respect for the Fair Work Commission process the company wouldn’t comment on specifics of the day’s meeting.

“We are engaging constructively in the process and are hopeful the MUA will return to the negotiating table,” he said.

“This is clearly an issue of national significance, and we need a circuit-breaker so trade can go back to normal for the benefit of Australian consumers and businesses.” The DP World spokesperson said both parties had agreed to a media blackout “to assist negotiations”.