Accountancy warns banks on transport militancy


The banks are being urged to improve their understanding of transport companies as industrial unrest grows. Ferrier Hodgson partner Brendan Richards wants the banks to consider the wider industrial landscape affecting their existing and prospective clients, saying the industrial unrest has spiked over the last 18 months.

February 28, 2012

The banks are being urged to improve their understanding of transport companies as industrial action grows.

Ferrier Hodgson partner Brendan Richards wants the banks to consider the wider industrial climate affecting their existing and prospective clients, saying unrest has spiked over the last 18 months.

"Australia’s ports are re-emerging as an industrial battleground, with strikes and lockouts threatening the productivity and viability of many operators within the transport sector," Richards says.

"It’s hard to believe that the original Patrick/MUA dispute kicked off 14 years ago but since then we’ve experienced a period of relative peace and stability on the waterfront.

"Over the last 12 to 18 months, the incidence of industrial unrest has spiked, with rising union activity and, crucially, threats of employers locking workers out."

Industrial action on waterfronts, airways and roads is threatening businesses throughout the country’s supply chain - from trucking and rail companies to warehouse operators, retailers and builders, he adds.

"Financiers and banking relationship managers need to be mindful of the wider industrial landscape affecting their existing and prospective clients.

"Next time you sit down with your clients; take the time to gain a better understanding of their business by asking about the extent to which their workforce is unionised."

They should also see whether companies have witnessed a material change in the level of industrial disputes, and if there are trends or factors that are driving increased industrial activity.

"A client who is heavily reliant on an industry or customer prone to incidents of industrial dispute is at risk of that action impairing their performance," Richards says.

"This line of questioning will not only help you gain a clearer picture of the risks faced by your clients, it may also help your clients to take a step back and consider the wider industrial landscape and start planning."

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