WATERFRONT industrial action is legal and adheres to the requirements of the Fair Work Act, Maritime Union national secretary Paddy Crumlin says.

Mr Crumlin has hit back at criticisms made by Shipping Australia that taking action at time of a pandemic-related lockdown could not be justified.

“Actually endangering the flow of goods to Australian families by organising coordinated and widespread protected industrial action, which looks like what is happening, would be reckless, despicable and dangerous,” SAL said in a statement last week.


Other industry bodies such as the Victorian Transport Association and the Australian Logistics Council have voiced similar concerns.

But in a statement to DCN, Mr Crumlin said it was Shipping Australia that “should be ashamed”.

“This is nothing more than an outrageous and reprehensible attempt to foment fear and uncertainty among the general public at a time when the COVID-19 health crisis is already causing a great deal of stress and anxiety,” the veteran union organiser said.

“The MUA has been negotiating in good faith with stevedoring companies — in some cases for two years — in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues and deliver agreements that deliver fair outcomes for workers,” he said.

“Industrial action undertaken by wharfies has and continues to be completely legal, adheres to the requirements of the Fair Work Act, and aims to minimise potential disruption to the general public.”

Mr Crumlin said workers were taking this protected industrial action to stave off corporate attacks on their wages and conditions.

“Shipping Australia should be urging stevedoring companies to come to the bargaining table in good faith so these enterprise agreements can be finalised,” he said.

“Shipping Australia does not represent Australian flag shipping or crews. They are the champion and spokespeople for flag-of-convenience shipping. We will not be lectured by an industry whose entire business model is built on the exploitation of workers and the avoidance of Australian taxes.”

Mr Crumlin talked about “numerous catastrophic incidents around the world caused by flag-of-convenience shipping”. “The real looming crisis at Australia ports has nothing to do with industrial action, but the fact that 300,000 seafarers remained stranded at sea,” he said.