THE MARITIME Union of Australia has called on SeaRoad leadership to restore a healthy workplace environment after reports of mental health and wellbeing problems among its workers – a claim SeaRoad has rejected.

The MUA claims SeaRoad management, at recent meetings with the union, downplayed mental health and wellbeing problems among its stevedores.

A statement from MUA Victoria Branch assistant secretary suggests the company “refused to facilitate peer support amongst workers” and rejected the union’s efforts to help the company improve its workplace culture.

“We have repeatedly sought co-operation and good faith from SeaRoad Stevedores’ middle managers to improve an increasingly difficult workplace so that all of our members can go to work without worrying about bullying, harassment or mistreatment, but management would rather blame the workforce than work with us to improve things,” Mr Patchett said.

“Many of SeaRoad Stevedores’ workers are on edge about the attitude from management throughout this episode, but worse, the relationship has been further damaged by a dismissive response to our genuine efforts to engage in good faith and make improvements.”

The MUA said it is concerned that previous investigations by the company “failed to seriously engage” with issues its workers are facing.

“A fresh, independent and arm’s length process must be led by an external facilitator to improve the workplace culture at SeaRoad Stevedores, and it must take in to account the testimony and contributions of all employees,” Mr Patchett said.

“We don’t need another investigation guided by managers with their own skin in the game.”

SeaRoad executive chairman Chas Kelly said he was “disappointed” with Mr Patchett’s statement, arguing it was “not a true reflection” of the working environment and relationship SeaRoad has with its employees.

“SeaRoad places the wellbeing and safety of its employees at the forefront of day-to-day operations,” he said in a statement responding to the union.

“Our continuous improvement programs constantly review and strengthen policies via a process of consultation and training,” he said.

“We have in place a framework to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of employees, which includes Code of Conduct; Appropriate Workplace Behaviour; Health Safety & Environment; Privacy and Whistleblower policies.”

Mr Kelly said SeaRoad has contact officer training in place to ensure employees have an avenue to raise concerns privately and confidentially.

“SeaRoad engages professional assistance in delivering a significant Appropriate Workplace Behaviour training program across the entire SeaRoad business – from ship to shore, management and throughout logistics,” he said.

“We provide multiple channels for SeaRoad employees to report matters of safety and wellbeing both internally via established protocols and externally via independent bodies established to protect all workers.

“In addition to these avenues, all SeaRoad employees have access to an employee assistance provider – Hunterlink, which is the MUA’s preferred supplier – that encompasses support for mental health issues with qualified professionals.

“SeaRoad encourages all employees to work collaboratively to deliver a safe and respectful workplace.”