Logistics News

FWC dismisses second appeal against MUA strikes

The commission says there is no evidence to support impending industrial action


The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has once again dismissed an appeal by Patrick Stevedores to suspend further industrial action by the members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) at its container terminals at Brisbane, Port Botany, Melbourne and Fremantle.

The appeal was rejected on the lack of evidence to support that the MUA had undertaken protected industrial action since January 19, nor had the union issued any notices about planned or impending strikes.

Earlier, a full bench decision vetoed vice-president Graeme Watson’s decision to have a 35-day cooling off period preventing further industrial action by the union, but indicated that it would reconsider the company’s case based on the circumstances “at the time of re-determination”.

Both parties were requested to submit evidence to support their case.

Patrick says that while disappointed with the overruling, it is encouraged by the MUA’s willingness to discuss the issue.

“Despite yesterday’s decision and the potential for further, damaging industrial action our goal remains the same since this process began almost a year ago, which is to create a new enterprise agreement that benefits our employees and customers, our business and the broader community,” the company says.

Patrick says that new ruling also implies that the union is now able to notify of further industrial action.

“Further industrial action would place Patrick management in the unenviable position of needing to explore all the other options available under the (Fair Work) Act to help mitigate the damage that industrial action inevitably inflicts on our business, on our customers and on communities across Australia,” it says.

The MUA and Patrick are currently embroiled in a bitter dispute over a proposed enterpirse agreement.

Patrick claims that the union has made “unreasonable” demands including a $285 increase in the amount paid to Port Botany stevedores which would result in the stevedores getting paid $995 for an eight-hour shift on Sundays.

However, the union insists the issue is “not about wages”, it is about ensuring job security for the staff.

MUA’s deputy national secretary Will Tracey says the negotiations have stretched on this far because the company refuses to promise job security to its staff at a time when Patrick-owner Asciano is looking into selling the business.

“The union is looking for assurances that the workers will not be used as cannon fodder so that Asciano can look more appealing to shareholders and its potential buyer,” Tracey says.

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