IN RECENT days, several CTAA Alliance companies have asked when the current protected industrial actions at DP World terminals across Australia might end, and what is the possible future for industrial disruption at all of Australia’s container terminals?  The following is an analysis of the current industrial relations landscape for the five container stevedoring companies in Australia.

It is evident from the analysis that there is a heightened risk of protected industrial actions at a range of container terminals across Australia in the coming months, additional to the current actions being taken at DP World terminals.

DP World Australia
On Wednesday (29 July), DP World Australia (DPWA) advised that they “have been unable to reach agreement with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), who have given notice … of further Protected Industrial Action (PIA) at DPWA Terminals.”

The PIA “includes work stoppages, limited various bans on employees working in tasks above their normal grade, overtime, shift extensions, accepting late call-ins, and ceasing advanced or delayed start times”.

A major difference with this revised PIA will impact in Sydney where from 4 August to 1 September 2020 work stoppages will occur for 1 hour per shift, at 05:00, 13:00, and 21:00 every day.

All terminal operations in Sydney will stop during those hours. Also, the Fremantle Terminal will suffer from rolling work stoppages from between 2 hours to 4 hours, commencing from 31 July 2020.

The previous DPWA Enterprise Agreements with the MUA expired in late February 2019. DPWA management has been trying to negotiate new Agreements with the union since at least six months before that date (i.e. approx. since October 2018). This negotiation timeline has now spanned two senior DPWA management teams, with no visible end in sight (at least from the perspective of an outside observer).

Patrick Terminals
The Patrick Terminals Enterprise Agreement 2016 expired on 30 June 2020.

CTAA understands that the MUA is undertaking a protected action ballot of its members covered by the Patrick Terminals’ EA under the provisions of the Fair Work Act.  The results of such a ballot may clear the way for lawful protected industrial action to be taken at Patrick Terminals in the coming months during the course of negotiation of a new EA between Patrick and its workforce.

Victoria International Container Terminal
The VICT Enterprise Agreement from October 2016 is valid until October 2020. The EA covers VICT employees be they members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) or the MUA.

Negotiations have been ongoing on a new EA. However, last week, members of the MUA employed at VICT voted down the content of a proposed new Agreement, and the MUA has request further negotiations with VICT management.

This means that the spectre of protected industrial action at VICT, Webb Dock, Melbourne, cannot be ruled out.

Hutchison Ports Australia
On 16 June 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) approved an amendment to the Sydney International Container Terminals Pty Limited (SICTL) and Brisbane Container Terminals Pty Limited (BCT) and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Enterprise Agreement 2015 to insert a Schedule 10 relating to enterprise employment arrangements at SICTL during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal
The current Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal Stevedoring Enterprise Agreement 2017-2021 does not expire until 30 June 2021. Similarly, the Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal Depot Enterprise Agreement 2019, covering the operations of the empty container park within the terminal remains in force until 30 June 2022.

This article was produced by the Container Transport Alliance of Australia

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