THE Maritime Union of Australia has called off its strike at Qube’s operation at Fremantle after reports that Attorney-General Michaelia Cash would intervene to end the strike on the grounds that it was causing economic damage to Western Australia.
Qube Ports director Michael Sousa said the union workers had returned to work with “nothing”.
“This is a humiliating backdown for the MUA officials in WA,” he said.
“They should apologise to the people of Western Australia and their own members for leading this pointless strike. They are under exactly the same conditions they have worked for more than 20 years and which have never been a problem before now.
“They are the same arrangements as the MUA national office accepted and have been agreed at 25 ports around Australia. Only the WA branch of the MUA wanted something different. They have cost their own members more than a million dollars in lost wages and cost WA countless millions in lost work and extra costs.”
Mr Sousa said, “We are happy to participate in conciliation but after more than 25 meetings in 18 months are not confident anything will change on the part of the union”.
DCN understands a sticking point in the negotiations has been around notification of roster changes so the company notifies workers of changes by 1400 the day before the shift instead of 1600.
MUA WA branch secretary Will Tracey said there had been significant gains in discussions through the 12 weeks of the dispute and talks have progressed on the threshold claim of the 2pm notification of work to the point where the protected industrial action could be suspended.
“Qube’s latest verbal attack on the MUA and its members shows exactly what workers have been dealing with in Fremantle – an arrogant self-righteous attitude throughout negotiations that clearly only understands a blunt response,” Mr Tracey said.
“We started negotiations with Qube rejecting every claim in the same manner they have responded to the end of the industrial action – belligerent, recalcitrant and willing to damage their own business, their clients and their workforce in an ideological vendetta against the MUA.”
Mr Tracey continued, saying, “Qube appears to want to win a game of one-upmanship instead of trying to resolve the dispute – a petty immature response from the Australia’s largest integrated logistics company with a $2 billion revenue stream.”
“This is not unexpected, given the way we have come to understand the irrational actions of key managers.”
Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA welcomed the intervention of the Australian government seeking to end the strike.
“It is very pleasing to see the state and federal governments working together to say ‘enough is enough’ on irresponsible union militancy,” AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said.
“The dispute at Fremantle Port has been ongoing for over three months and has involved malicious targeting of Qube’s clients internationally and blocking other contractors from unloading ships, resulting in major global shipping companies circumventing Fremantle Port for Melbourne and Adelaide.”
Mr Knott said the industrial action had been highly damaging for Western Australia’s agricultural, mining, construction and other sectors.
“Serious impacts on the broader Western Australian community were imminent,” he said.