Unions double down on VICT action

DP World Australia caught in wake of container terminal action

Unions double down on VICT action
Anders Dømmestrup says Victoria's importers and exporters are being hurt


The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) have celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Patrick dispute with an action in the port of Melbourne.

While Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) is the focus of a campaign to muscle into that terminal, DP World Australia (DPWA) has been affected by the latest bout of militancy.

In response, DPWA has called on the MUA to end the "reckless actions currently underway that is causing chaos to the Australian shipping industry".

"On top of the seven strikes that have decimated ability to handle Christmas volumes at Port Botany – with another strike planned in Sydney for 13 December 2017 – the MUA have now pressured employees of all stevedores in Melbourne to attend a rally at VICT resulting in delays to all vessels calling the Port of Melbourne, just two weeks out from Christmas," DPWA continues.

"DP World Australia did all it could to attempt to avert this action occurring with calls late into the night with senior MUA leaders.

"DP World Australia has various strategies in place to address the unprotected industrial action taken today as encouraged by the MUA.

"Our customers can be assured that we will work closely with you and do all possible to recover the situation ASAP.

"We are treating this disruption with the utmost seriousness and are exploring all legal avenues available to us to address the MUA and employees' actions."

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) says the "illegal blockade" is "merely a taste of the industrial mayhem that would be unleashed if their plans to merge proceed".

"These events are reminiscent of the bad old days on the Australian waterfront, with the MUA and the CFMEU undertaking pickets based on spurious grounds, and operating in the misguided belief that they are above the law," ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says.

"ALC is deeply concerned that if the MUA and CFMEU are allowed to merge into a militant mega-union, the sort of wilful illegality we are now witnessing at Webb Dock will spread throughout the nation, and across our supply chains.

"The actions of the MUA and the CFMEU at Webb Dock are not only an attack on businesses, but on the entire community. Fresh produce is rotting on the wharf, and merchandise that includes Christmas gifts for children is unable to move.

"Quite clearly, the terms of this action are being dictated by the CFMEU, with the MUA’s members reduced to acting as pawns in a wider industrial and political game."

"If these two unions are able to cause this level of disruption and massive financial losses when operating as single entities, just imagine what will occur if they are allowed to form a mega-union. This type of action won’t simply be restricted to the waterfront, but will occur right across the supply chain."

For VICT  chief executive Anders Dømmestrup, the expansion of the illegal picket at Webb Dock through today's union-led demonstration was "an outrageous piece of industrial behaviour that has no place in Victoria in 2017".

"The illegal picket is causing widespread hardship among Victoria's importers and exporters," Dommestrup says.

"It is damaging Victoria's reputation as a trading economy and as a destination for investment and gives an unmistakable signal that modern technology and ways of doing business are not welcome in Victoria if traditional unionism doesn’t like it.

"The unions have failed all along to utilise the processes available under the Fair Work Act and continue to do so. The picket has never been necessary and still isn’t.

"We appreciate the efforts of the Victorian government to help remove the picket but VICT cannot supply the remedy the unions are looking for.

"‘We will not employ someone who is ineligible for the security clearance required under Commonwealth law to work at VICT and who misled us for nine months about his security status."


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