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THE Federal Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to pay damages of $2.2 million to Patrick and Qube for costs incurred during strikes, blockades and work bans at Port Botany in 2017.

The dispute occurred when Patrick sub-leased an empty container park at Port Botany to Qube, which was not covered by the Patrick enterprise bargaining agreement. In response, the union conducted a 24-hour strike a week of work bans.

In addition to the damages, the court ordered the union to pay a fine of $30,000. In his decision, Justice Michael Lee said there needed to be a “penal response”, but he set the fine well below the maximum in light of the significant compensation ordered to be paid.

Then MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer was ordered to pay a fine of $7500. Justice Lee said he took into account his “numerous previous contraventions” and the “serious nature of his conduct” when setting the fine.

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Then-deputy Sydney branch secretary Paul Keating got a lower fine, at $5000. In explaining why he was imposing the lower penalty for Mr Keating, the judge said, while “there was not a cigarette paper of difference between the attitude of Mr McAleer and that of Mr Keating, I consider that Mr Keating’s conduct, as compared to McAleer’s conduct, was less severe”.

The union was ordered to pay Patrick $364,725 as compensation for needing to hire additional trucks to clear import containers from the Botany yard after all rail windows were cancelled during the bans and work stoppages.

And the union was ordered to pay Qube 1.85 million. Much of this is to compensate the company for needing to hire trucks and drivers to move containers when the work stoppages and bans were on, as well as to clear container backlogs that piled up during the actions. The damages also cover container detention fees on import and export containers.

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