PILOTS at the port of Brisbane will go ahead with industrial action against their employer Poseidon Sea Pilots.

Pilots represented by Australian Maritime Officers Union intend to stop work for 24 hours commencing at 0001 AEST on Thursday 24 August.

The pilots will also not be coming in for extra shifts during that time.

AMOU organiser Tracey Ellis said compulsory conciliation in the Fair Work Commission had “forced the company to negotiate” but said it had presented an “unacceptable” agreement to the pilots.

According to the union, the proposed agreement would cause pilots’ real wages to “go backwards” and see pilots work unpaid overtime and be subject to dismissal without performance management or warning process. It said the latest offer from the company includes 2.5% pay rises per year.

“To continually compare marine pilots who are on call 24/7 while they are on swing and are expected to be working up to 14 hours a day with people who potentially work nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, is not based in reality,” Ms Ellis said.

“It’s not even industry standard for marine pilots to be working 14-hour days, let alone not getting industry standard leave.

“Our pilots have no desire to unnecessarily impact the Queensland economy but, unfortunately, the company has proven that they are unable to negotiate in good faith, seeking to squeeze more and more profit out of its workers to prop up other less profitable parts of their business, and today our members have drawn a line.”

AMS Group CEO Glen Marshall told DCN Poseidon was “disappointed” at the tactic being employed by the AMOU. 

“Are we back in the 1990s,” he asked.

“As part of the negotiations AMS Group has committed to pay pilots $347,000 per annum on a roster where they work 23 weeks a year – yes, that is 29 weeks off. 

“They are now demanding more leave, a 30% pay increase and annual CPI increases. 

“To cite ports such as Port Hedland and regional QLD as comparative for pay scales demonstrates the lack of appreciation of their ‘good wicket’, especially living in Brisbane, home with their family every day and not being FIFO.  

“We look forward to further realistic and reasonable negotiations.”

The AMOU said its members are seeking a fair agreement that guarantees a safe workplace through the implementation of fatigue management practices underpinned by science, contains industry standard conditions, and ensures that pilots cannot be “summarily sacked at a whim of management”.

The union began negotiating an enterprise agreement with Poseidon Sea Pilots around 12 months ago, filing a protected action ballot order application with the Fair Work Commission in June this year after 10 months of slow-moving negotiations.

The FWC approved the ballot, initiating a voting period that ended with a unanimous vote of support for industrial action.

The AMOU and Poseidon Sea Pilots have met with the FWC regularly since then, and while the FWC had given pilots the all-clear to strike, seemingly productive meetings between the union and employer had kept industrial action at bay for some time.

Approving the application for protected industrial action, FWC gave pilots permission to launch overtime bans, work stoppages, bans on driving company vehicles and performance-related bans.