MUA strikes again as Patrick refuses to surrender


Rolling strikes against stevedore Patrick will start tomorrow but the stevedore is refusing to budge on its wages offer

By Ruza Zivkusic | October 6, 2011

Rolling strikes against stevedore Patrick will start tomorrow as the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) pushes for a settlement on the long-running dispute over an enterprise agreement.

MUA members at Patrick’s bulk and general cargo operations will go on strike tomorrow at the Fremantle, Darwin, Geelong and Webb Dock ports.

Fremantle and Darwin will be hit by a 24-hour strike, starting tomorrow at 7am.

A ban on shift extensions of any kind will take place at Geelong Port starting at midnight tomorrow and finishing at midnight on October 21.

An eight-hour strike will also occur at Melbourne’s Webb Dock starting 7am tomorrow.

MUA’s Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray says the employees are demanding more training, better safety and job security.

Truck drivers might be affected by the strike if the company does not make alternative arrangements, he adds.

"We want a collective agreement and we’re prepared to talk but we’re not going to do the negotiations via email and through ransom notes by the company," Bray says.

He calls on Patrick to come back to the table and "negotiate the matter in good faith".

"We are serious about fixing the training, the safety and job security for this EBA," Bray says.

"The cost issues we’re happy to sit down and discuss with them but the fact is there’s other issues that are more important than cost to us and we’re determent to get those outcomes in the EBA."

A Patrick spokeswoman has described the MUA’s decision to undertake rolling strike as "disappointing", saying the union’s pursuit of "unrealistic and unsustainable claims offered no productivity or efficiency".

"In addition to pay increase of approximately 20 percent over the life of the agreement the union is demanding a compression of employment grading structures that, in addition to other claims, would cost the business an additional $23.23 million on average each year," the spokeswoman says.

She says the union demands will impose an extra $92.91 million in total across the four-year life of the agreement and lead to significant rise in employee wages without any productivity or efficiency measures to offset the increases.

"While many Australians are in a position of economic uncertainty and are experiencing a fall in job security levels, the Patrick offer provides competitive terms and conditions for employees and a fair and sustainable outcome for our staff, our business and our customers," the spokeswoman says.

She says Patrick is working with its customers to mitigate the impact on their businesses and is urging the MUA to reconsider its position.

Patrick and MUA have been in negotiations for a year and have attended Fair Work Australia meetings on 12 occasions.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook