ENTERPRISE agreement negotiations have come to an end between the Victoria International Container Terminal and unions, including the Australian Maritime Officers Union; the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia; and the Maritime Union of Australia.

VICT CEO Tim Vancampen said, “We wanted to do a comprehensive agreement with the unions if we could get our special automated workplace organisation and manning levels inside a formal EA. That’s what we achieved.”

The new agreement will be in place for four years.

In a statement, VICT said the agreement includes stevedore arrangements and flexibilities specifically aligned to complement the terminal’s specialised automated container management systems.

VICT said the agreement is the result of active bargaining in the ratification process that both management and union delegates tirelessly worked on during the last few months.

“Through constructive and sometimes difficult negotiations, both parties have now concluded that continuity, security and compromise are in the best interests for all stakeholders, employees and VICT’s customers, especially considering the volatility of the pandemic’s impact,” the terminal’s statement said.

“The agreement also highlights avenues for further strengthened dialogue and greater co-operation in line with shared judicial commitments.”

The MUA said under the agreement, 75% of casual roles would be converted to permanent jobs; VICT said a total of 62 new permanent positions will be created.

The union said the VICT enterprise agreement contains significant family-friendly provisions, including new rosters that reduce hours of work at the terminal, less reliance on overtime, improved long-service leave provisions and income protection insurance.

Also, the MUA said job security provisions in the agreement would prevent VICT from outsourcing, offshoring, or contracting out work covered by the agreement.

The union said it had settled several long-running legal disputes with VICT, saying both sides had agreed to terminate the matters to ensure functional industrial relations.

MUA assistant national secretary Adrian Evans said the agreement was formally signed Thursday (1 July) following the unanimous endorsement of VICT workers yesterday.

“This is the one of the most significant agreements ever struck in the maritime industry, bringing the wages and conditions of VICT workers up to industry standards,” Mr Evans said.

“VICT’s reliance on casual labour and excessive overtime were the most significant issues for workers, which is why they took legally protected industrial action to further their campaign for permanent jobs that would provide economic security for their families.”

Mr Evans said the agreement with VICT would deliver certainty for Australian business and the general community.

“This agreement follows the finalisation of enterprise agreements with almost all of Australia’s container terminal operators, including DP World Australia, Hutchison, and an in-principle deal with Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal,” he said.