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WHARFIES employed by stevedore DPWA are to hold a ballot allowing for protected industrial action at container terminals.

This follows a disagreement between the stevedore and the maritime union (now part of the CFMMEU) over the contents of a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

According to the union, an application for a protected action ballot is being filed with a likely hearing expected on Friday 8 February or Monday 11 February.

“DPWA have chosen to use a social clause, a protection for our families, bargained for and agreed with the company last EBA against us now as industrial leverage,” the union stated.

“They are using our families’ health and well-being as an industrial bargaining chip.”

A DPWA spokesman said leadership was “disappointed but not surprised by the statement released by the MUA yesterday following the conclusion of the latest round of enterprise agreement negotiations”.

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The spokesman said IP was agreed in 2015 as part of the current EA which expires on 28 February.

“The EA specifically includes a discontinuation date for IP of 28 February 2019,” he said.

“In the absence of a new agreement DPWA is obliged to redirect the salary component which was being used to pay IP back to employees. This is what DPWA is doing and employees will receive a 2% increase to both their salary and clause 11 allowances from 1 March 2019.”

The union also took aim at the corporate restructure of DPWA, which has seen DPW increase its shareholding to a majority stake, suggesting it had led to “poor corporate standards of responsibility towards the well-being of their workforce”.

“Not exactly an entry of great eminence for the new CEO Glen Hilton,” the union stated.

The DPWA spokesman said the company valued “both our employees and certainty”.

“Which is why we made a generous offer to rollover the existing agreement, including IP, with an additional 2.6% pay increase,” the spokesman said.

“In the context of an annual inflation rate of 1.8% and enormous commercial pressure from some consolidated international shipping lines, we were genuinely surprised it was not considered more seriously by the union.” 

The spokesman said the company hoped the MUA would be mindful of DPWA employees and customers “when threatening spurious industrial action”.

“DPWA leadership remain open to negotiating and hopeful of reaching a new enterprise agreement soon,” the spokesman said. 

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