TUG company Svitzer is preparing for the impact of multiple industrial actions to be taken in days to come as members of the Maritime Union seek a new enterprise agreement.

Actions include:

  • Adelaide and Port Pirie; a stoppage of work for 24 hours starting at 12:01am on Friday 13 November 2020, in the ports of Adelaide and Port Pirie
  • Port Jackson and Port Botany; bans on captive shifts from12:01am on Friday 13 November 2020 through to 11:59 pm on Friday 13 November. Vessels calling in this period will still be serviced. Captivity refers to Svitzer Australia crew remaining on board for specific periods during their shift so they are able to respond to emergency in the ports on short notice. Crews will only attend the port for scheduled towage jobs.
  • Geelong and Melbourne; a stoppage of work for four hours starting at 8.00 am on Friday 13 November
  • Brisbane; a stoppage of work for four hours starting at 5am on Friday 13 November
  • Port Kembla; a stoppage for four hours starting at 10am on Friday 13 November 2020.

In a statement, Svitzer said it was disappointed the MUA was taking action during a global pandemic.

“This action risks delays to the import and export of critical goods and supplies at ports across Australia,” a spokesperson said.

“We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact by rescheduling and absorbing additional costs. “We are trying to bargain in good faith with the MUA to negotiate a new enterprise agreement that will put us on a sustainable footing in the long-term so we can continue to offer good jobs and high salaries to the union’s members.”

MUA national secretary Ian Bray said despite being on the cusp of finalising a new workplace agreement earlier this year, Svitzer management decided to use the COVID crisis to introduce 30 new claims that would “slash the rights, conditions, and job security of their Australian workforce”.

“Our members refuse to accept those unilateral attacks on their rights and conditions, which is why they are undertaking completely legal forms of industrial action in protest,” Mr Bray said.

“This action would be completely unnecessary if Svitzer withdrew their attempts to strip away workers’ rights and conditions and instead focused on reaching a sensible outcome.

“We have provided extensive notice ahead of taking these actions, giving Svitzer management the opportunity to make appropriate scheduling changes to avoid any potential impact on customers.”

Mr Bray said their action at Port Botany did not cover towage, only operations at the berth.

“As a result, there will be no impact on any vessels being brought in or out of the harbour,” he said.