HUTCHISON Port Holdings’ Brisbane and Sydney terminals are set to be hit with a wave of work bans and stoppages after wharfies voted in favour of industrial action.

In a statement released by the Maritime Union (now part of the CFMMEU), it was confirmed that workers employed by Hutchison had “voted overwhelmingly to begin broad-ranging industrial action”.

In a combative statement, the union accused Hutchison of “launching the most severe attack on waterfront conditions in a generation”.

A protected action ballot of Hutchison workers at Ports Botany and Brisbane, run by the Australian Electoral Commission, reported 98.4% support for a series of rolling work stoppages, along with several other actions.

The first round of industrial action is to begin on Thursday with work bans and limitations.

According to the union, negotiations for a new workplace agreement had reached a stalemate.
The MUA said the company’s demands included: a 2.5% cut to superannuation; cuts to sick and parental leave; cuts to redundancy and long service leave; removal of income protection; wage cuts of up to $10 per hour followed by a wage freeze.

There were also claims of reductions to safety standards.

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MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith said Hutchison’s approach left no choice but to take industrial action.

“The world’s largest stevedore, the same company that sacked 97 workers by text message in 2015, is now telling its Australian workforce that it wants to slash their wages and conditions,” Mr Smith said.

“If Hutchison gets its way, waterfront workers would be left 26% worse off in retirement based on the company’s planned cuts to their superannuation entitlements, while redundancy payments would be halved for the average worker, as would long service leave.”

A spokesman for Hutchison indicated the company did not want conflict.

“HPA continues to negotiate in good faith with the union, but the company’s position remains that it needs a more flexible workforce to improve its economic position and keep people employed.”

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