NEGOTIATIONS between the Maritime Union of Australia and Hutchison Ports Australia appear to be coming to a head. The union has issued additional notices of protected industrial action, and the company has issued what it says is a “final offer”, with a deadline soon.

The union has issued Hutchison with additional work stoppages at Sydney and Brisbane.

At Sydney, the union gave notice of two work stoppages of 24 hours – first starting at 0600 Saturday 19 June and the second starting at 0600 on Tuesday 22 June.

And at Brisbane, the union gave notice of four consecutive four-hour work stoppages from 0700 Tuesday 22 June 2021. Also, there are two consecutive four-hour stoppages from 0700 Wednesday 23 June and two consecutive four-hour stoppages from 0700 Thursday 24 June.

DCN has seen a memo to Hutchison employees, dated 16 June. In it, the company outlines what it says is a “final offer”. According to the memo, the company is offering a wage increase of 12.5% over four years, introduction of paid parental leave, 48 operational casual employees in Brisbane will be converted part time employment with a minimum 16 hours guaranteed, and others.

Also in the memo, the company says it requires continuous operations landside and shipside across both Sydney and Brisbane, among other operational requirements.

The company said the employees have until 1700 on Thursday (17 June) to accept the offer.

An industry source said the company is perplexed and frustrated that after almost three years on the enterprise bargaining agreement that the union would take such a hard-line and provocative stance through industrial action, given the offer on the table.

The source said the company believes the union wants to blow up the deal, even though, at several stages, it looked close closing.

The source pointed out that the agreement on offer includes pay rises for salaries well into six figures for a 33-hour working week for many of its workforce. They went on to say the EBA offers job security, pay rises, fixed rosters.

“All the company wants in return is productive and efficient output across a daily 8-hour shift,” the source said.

“The company believes the ordinary Australian worker would be aghast at the refusal to sign up for those benefits.”

The union declined to comment for this article.

Further industrial action at Patrick

The union has also announced additional industrial action at Patrick’s Brisbane and Sydney terminals.

These include a ban on working ships that have been subcontracted to, or outsourced to, Patrick Terminals by another stevedoring company. At Sydney this ban will run from 24 June through 15 July, and at Brisbane, the ban will run from 23 June through 7 July.

Also at Sydney, the union announced 21 days of regular one-hour work stoppages at 0500, 1300 and 2100 every day. These are slated to start on 24 June and run until 15 July.

There were also announcements of more bans on working overtime and extra shifts at Patrick’s Brisbane terminal.

In a notice to customers, the company said labour availability has been impacted across May and June, including reductions of between 20% and 50% during certain periods. The company said delays are expected to increase significantly, particularly in Sydney.

“Throughout this period of time, the Patrick management team and representatives have continued to meet with and engage with all levels of the MUA with the objective of working towards a fair and reasonable arrangement for all parties,” the statement said.

“Further meetings with MUA officials are being held this week to seek a resolution. The MUA seem to be determined to cause as much pain and disruption as possible for Australian exporters and importers at a time when our country is focused on economic recovery.”