ALC condemns MUA industrial action

ALC MD accuses MUA of 'posturing', says former rosters are unsustainable in today's economy

ALC condemns MUA industrial action
ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff


The Australian Logistics Council has weighed in on industrial action taken by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) against Qube Ports, saying the MUA move is more about boosting its own public profile than about a legitimate workplace grievance.

Workers are currently in day two of a four-day strike at Melbourne’s Appleton Dock and Webb Dock car terminal in protest of a bid by Qube to axe its existing enterprise bargaining agreement.

The moves coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 1998 waterfront dispute between the MUA and Patrick Stevedores – before it was taken over by Qube in 2016.

The MUA has been seeking to restore a roster that was scaled back in 2014 when Patrick was in a difficult financial situation – with negotiations continuing on this point for the past two years.

As ATN reported yesterday, Qube Ports director Michael Sousa has labelled the former roster "uneconomic", and said the company was in a position to offer pay rises of almost 10 per cent over four years.

But the MUA has argued that removing the previous agreement would lead to a pay cut of at least 40 per cent if the company reverted to the award scheme.

ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said Qube Ports had acted reasonably its negotiations, saying many freight and logistics operators were often subject to "petty and disruptive" industrial action.

 "If the MUA wishes to commemorate significant moments from its past, it should put together an appropriate anniversary event, instead of disrupting legitimate business activities on spurious grounds," he said.

"The resulting delays in freight movement simply engender higher shipping costs, which in turn mean higher consumer prices being paid by all - including those working people unions claim to represent."

Kilgariff also highlighted his earlier concern that "spurious industrial action" would occur more often with the proposed merger of the MUA and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

"A massive, militant union exercising an industrial monopoly over the nation’s supply chains poses an enormous risk to ongoing economic and employment growth – especially for an economy that relies heavily on exports and imports of manufactured products."

"ALC encourages the Federal Government to act on its election commitment to subject union mergers to a public interest test, similar in nature to competition law principles that apply to businesses," he says.

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