THE Maritime Union says it will use a conciliation hearing at the Fair Work Commission to formally offer Patrick Terminals a peace deal ending industrial action at company container terminals.

According to the union, their proposal would see the company’s existing workplace agreement extended for 12 months, maintaining the status quo with existing terms and conditions, while providing a 2.5% pay rise to wharfies.

By extending the current agreement for a year, it would prevent protected industrial action and provide certainty for Patrick, workers, and the Australian community.

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MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said while the union rejected Patrick’s “outlandish and baseless delay claims”, it wanted to address the concerns of the broader Australian community.

“When the MUA and Patrick sit down for a conciliation hearing before the Fair Work Commission today, the union will be putting forward this genuine, reasonable, and fair peace offer that could bring the current dispute to an immediate end,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The union proposal would see the existing workplace agreement rolled over for another 12 months, maintaining the status quo in relation to workplace rights and conditions, while providing a reasonable and affordable 2.5 per cent pay increase to wharfies.”

Mr Crumlin said if Patrick was serious about resolving the dispute, they would accept the union’s genuine offer.

“The truth is, this dispute has never been about money, it’s been about Patrick’s desire to slash the conditions of their workforce under the cover of the COVID crisis,” he said.

“If the company steps back from their proposal to slash 50 pages of conditions from the current agreement — clauses that govern things like rosters, hours of work, and family-friendly provisions — we could have an agreement today.”

Comment has been sought from Patrick.

Earlier, Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson called for an “attitude of reason” and not self-interest in order to end the dispute.

“Our economy and our communities are desperately trying to survive a once in 100-year pandemic that is pushing our economy towards a deep recession,” Mr Anderson said.

“Hundreds of thousands of Australians are out of work and have little short-term prospects of finding a job, yet we have squabbling and disagreement in a sector that has been fortunate enough to maintain near full employment on above average wages.

“All parties need to put the national interest ahead of self interest and spare Australian consumers the higher prices and inevitable shortages they will face if their industrial action persists.”

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