MORE conflict is brewing at Port Botany with the Maritime Union condemning a new line services business as a “scab operator”.

The company, Port and Harbour Services, has hit back, however, arguing that such a description is false and that they are merely trying to provide line services competition and that 70% of their workforce are union members.

According to the MUA, mooring company NMS Botany closed in February, with workers losing their jobs and the owners blaming both COVID-19 and a tough market.

However, according to the union, the owners of the company later relaunched under the name Port and Harbour Services, starting work at Kurnell and Port Botany.

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“Shutting down a company to try and dodge paying industry rates and undermine competitors is the oldest trick in the book,” said MUA Sydney Branch deputy secretary Paul Keating.

“We call on Caltex and all maritime industry players to withdraw all relations with this pariah company.”

PHS has a contract with Caltex to moor and unmoor ships carrying fuel into Sydney.

“Port and Harbour Services seem to think that the MUA is distracted by what’s happening with the stevedores,” Mr Keating said.

Workplace Advisory Group principal Mark Diamond, speaking on behalf of Port and Harbour Services, said the owners of PHS made no apology for seeking to disrupt a monopoly arrangement.

Mr Diamond said 70% of the PHS workforce were current MUA members and rates of pay were “roughly lineball” with Ausport Marine.

PHS employs a mixture of permanent and casual employees.

“The union’s statement makes no sense. Indeed, when the service was about to commence PHS offered dialogue to the MUA and never got a response,” Mr Diamond said.

“PHS does not wish to make any further comment other than to say that labelling PHS a ‘scab operator’ is a completely false statement particularly where the union is aware that most of the PHS workers are current union members,” he said.

“The path of dialogue is never closed but it takes two parties to walk that path.”

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