ENGAGE Marine and the three maritime unions have finalised an enterprise agreement for towage operations at the Port of Abbot Point. The EA was endorsed by employees late last week.

The company and the unions commenced negotiations in April last year after North Queensland Bulk Ports awarded Engage Marine a long-term licence to provide towage services at Abbot Point.

A statement from the company said the vote on the EA took place on 21 and 20 January and resulted in an “overwhelmingly positive” response in favour of the agreement.

“All parties worked together collaboratively and respectfully to achieve this outcome, surpassing the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in respect to face-to-face negotiations,” the company said.

According to Engage Marine, the agreement provides the company with a sustainable workforce for the next four years and:

  • provides rightful respect to the traditional land owners, the Juru people – guaranteeing trainee positions over the life of the agreement and priority of employment;
  • is a local agreement for Bowen – local jobs are protected and service delivery is 100% focussed on the Abbot Point Coal Terminal;
  • ensures promotion of diversity in the workplace;
  • delivers “industry leading wages” over the next four years; and
  • facilitates productivity enhancements “by ensuring those that perform the work are suitably rewarded”.

Engage Marine director of people and culture Luke Bettesworth said, “Such a positive endorsement gives us the comfort that the employees, unions, and company are in alignment. I see this alignment being the cornerstone to ensuring we provide first class marine services in Queensland into the future. We are proud to achieve this outcome, which was achieved alongside the successful commencement of operations”.

The agreement will now be lodged with the Fair Work Commission for approval.

Negotiations for the enterprise agreement have not been without incident. In August, the MUA accused Engage of replacing 19 workers at Abbot Point with interstate workers.

However, the company said it followed a “fair and equitable” process to select the “optimal combination of skill and experience”.

“Engage Marine believe we have upheld their commitment to a fully localised workforce and have established a high-quality team,” the company said at the time.