TASPORTS and the Australian Maritime Officers Union have warned industrial action will escalate as marine pilots prepare for a four-hour work stoppage on Thursday.

TasPorts pilots launched protected industrial action on Friday (19 January), beginning with bans on performing pilotage services at night and bans on communication with agents and schedulers. These bans remain in place as of 22 January.

The AMOU has also notified TasPorts that pilots intend to stop work on Thursday (25 January) for four hour periods. The stoppages are scheduled to commence at different times of day:

  • the North West Pilot Group will stop work for four hours commencing at 1500 AEDT,
  • the Northern Pilot Group will stop work for four hours commencing at 0500 AEDT, and
  • the Southern Pilot Group will stop work for four hours commencing at 1500 AEDT.

TasPorts and the AMOU have been negotiating an enterprise agreement for the pilots since June 2023. The union is seeking competitive pilotage rates.

In a statement on Friday (19 January) TasPorts said it had proposed an improved salary of 5%, 3.5% and 3.5% over three years and is seeking to move to electric vehicles.

“The proposed changes have been rejected by the marine pilots who are seeking other benefits which include the use of motor vehicles for interstate travel,” TasPorts said.

The ports corporation believes its proposal is “fair and reasonable” and said that it is still committed to reaching a balanced outcome.

“While our pilots provide a valuable service, TasPorts is deeply concerned about the threat of escalating action and has urged the AMOU to continue negotiations with a view to achieving a fair and reasonable outcome.”

AMOU industrial officer Jarrod Moran said the pilots haven’t properly negotiated with TasPorts since 2017.

“Our agreement that ran out in 2020 was at the start of covid … so we rolled over at the request of TasPorts, and then in 2022 when we were going to negotiate again, TasPorts said they didn’t have the right people to sit in the room to negotiate with us,” he told DCN.

Mr Moran said the pilots are now in a position where they want to negotiate.

“You don’t pay firemen by the fire,” Mr Moran said.

“The pilots will service whatever vessels are there to be serviced. They’ve got a privileged position in the Tasmanian economy, because Tasmania is an island.

“The pilots understand completely that the reputation of Tasmania, in some respects, can rest with them. They don’t take their action lightly.”

The Fair Work Commission in December approved a list of work bans and stoppages outlined in a ballot for protected action.

Mr Moran said there are currently no meetings scheduled between TasPorts and the AMOU, but the pilots will meet on Tuesday (23 January) to discuss further industrial action.