TASPORTS marine pilots, represented by the Australian Maritime Officers Union, are considering taking protected industrial action against their employer.

The Fair Work Commission on 19 December approved a protected action ballot order filed by the AMOU, opening a voting period for the pilots to determine whether they take action in the new year.

The ballot is due to close on 12 January 2024.

It follows months of negotiations between TasPorts and the union over an enterprise agreement for the pilotage workforce.

Negotiations began June 2023 after TasPorts issued its notice of employee representational rights in May, according to the union.

AMOU senior industrial officer Chris Nieberding claims the port corporation’s executive staff are on nationally competitive salaries, but its pilots are not.

“They’re very much picking and choosing how and who they pay national rates to,” he told DCN.

“TasPorts pilots are looking for competitive pilotage rates of pay and remuneration.”

TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald confirmed the company has been advised that the FWC approved a ballot for protected industrial action from the AMOU.

“TasPorts is committed to safe, reliable, customer-focused port operations, and will continue negotiations in good faith,” he said.

Mr Nieberding said the pilotage enterprise agreement is one of three separate enterprise agreements currently under negotiation, including one for towage.

“They say they are committed to finalising these enterprise agreements, but … there is no doubt this will go into the new year,” he said.

TasPorts is a state-owned company responsible for 11 Tasmanian ports, including the primary ports of Hobart, Bell Bay, Burnie and Devonport.