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DARWIN Port may soon see industrial action on its wharves as Northern Territory port workers dispute new pay arrangements.

The Maritime Union of Australia suggested Darwin Port management is “persisting with a series of wage cuts” set out in a new employment agreement.

MUA said workers have tried to negotiate a deal but have been “left with little choice” but to engage in industrial action.

The Fair Work Commission recently announced a 5.2% increase to the national minimum wage following its annual wage review, to deal with inflation.

But it is understood Darwin Port is offering workers a pay increase of a little more than 2%, which effectively amounts to a pay cut.

MUA deputy secretary Warren Smith described the port’s position as “completely out of step” with that of the rest of the nation.

“It is outrageous that any employer would consider delivering a pay cut under the current circumstances, especially in the transport and shipping sector where it has been the labour of this workforce that has kept society moving during COVID,” Mr Smith said.

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MUA said it is currently balloting its membership to gather a democratic mandate for industrial action at the port.

“Everything we do is driven by the grassroots,” Mr Smith said. “If the workforce determine that they will take action it will be because they feel they have no other choice against an employer that has disrespected and mistreated them.

“To try to strip the pay rates is an unjustifiable position and completely undermines the trust between the workforce and management.”

According to the MUA, Darwin Ports has lodged a dispute with the Fair Work Commission to halt the balloting process. The union described the reported move as an “intimidatory stand-over tactic”.

“We are in this situation because of the belligerence of Darwin Ports’ management,” Mr Smith said.

“Instead of setting up a fight with their employees over wages, they should work towards a respectful and co-operative relationship with their workers that builds on the massive contribution made by our members during COVID.”

Darwin Port did not respond to DCN’s request for comment on this article.

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