Qube succeeds in keeping MUA at bay

FWC describes maritime union proposition as ‘extremely ambitious’

Qube succeeds in keeping MUA at bay
Qube truck drivers will remain transport workers


A Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) effort to move further inland has been driven back to the waterfront in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

In a modern manifestation of a demarcation dispute, the MUA argues that Qube truck drivers engaged on rail loop operations at Sydney’s Port Botany, some of whom had been enrolled in the MUA, are engaged in stevedoring operations.

The MUA’s intervention came as Qube was seeking to finalise an enterprise bargaining agreement the Transport Workers Union (TWU) after 10 months of negotiation.

Through what’s known as a "scope order", the MUA wants Qube to be involved in two separate negotiations, allowing the MUA to be dealt into proceedings.

The MUA claims that they were working in the chain of loading and unloading of containerised cargo on and from ships, or handling close the wharf in preparation for those tasks.

The argument hinges on subsection 238 (4) (b) of the Fair Work Act which relates to appropriate coverage of employees in enterprise bargaining and "fair and efficient conduct of bargaining".

Qube’s case is that stevedoring was limited to ship loading and unloading and the workers were employed by its road transport and logistics company.

Therefore, the MUA is not entitled to represent them and that it had not engaged in good-faith bargaining, especially given its 11th hour intervention in negotiations, a point the FWC commissioner Ian Cambridge, who heard the case, backs.

The TWU joined Qube in rejecting the MUA’s thrust, noting the rail loop drivers were regularly rostered employees to work from the different Sydney sites and were covered by transport work conditions rather than stevedoring ones.

Cambridge supports Qube’s and the TWU’s position, saying "the proposition that the Stevedoring Award would apply to a transport company such as Qube must have been realistically assessed by the MUA to have been something that could be generously described as extremely ambitious". 


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