MUA won't talk: Shipping Australia

Newcastle Newcastle

Shipping Australia and employers disagree with the MUA on National Stevedoring Code of Practice, say the union won't negotiate

MUA won't talk: Shipping Australia
MUA won't talk: Shipping Australia

By Anna Game-Lopata | February 14, 2012

Shipping Australia supports a National Stevedoring Code of Practice but disagrees with the Maritime Union of Australia’s (MUA) version.

Shipping Australia (SAL) Chief Executive Llew Russell
strongly denies the MUA's claim this week that major employers such as Patrick, Qube and DP World have joined SAL to block the stevedoring code of practice following the death of 56 year-old Newcastle wharfie, Greg Fitzgibbon last month.

A 20 tonne pallet of aluminium ingots on board the Weaver Arrow crushed Mr Fitzgibbon on September 23.

Waterfront workers will today protest at major ports and stevedoring headquarters around the country to demand a national safety code, which they claim will make the Australian waterfront a safer place to work.

Russell says he is disappointed the Maritime Union has chosen an adversarial approach to force through its vision for the code of practice, which has been on the industry’s agenda for three years.

Russell says his organisation, along with stevedores such as Qube Logistics and Asciano feel the MUA’s approach to the code of practice is too prescriptive in situations which require flexibility.

He also says the union is advocating more workers, such as extra safety officers, in
high risk environments, which Shipping Australia is concerned will put more people in danger.

"For example, automation in container terminals would reduce the risk of injury but the MUA has opposed automation of a container terminal at Port Botany," Russell says.

"In our view, the real difference between ourselves, the stevedores, other industry associations and the MUA is the question of who is responsible for safety on the waterfront and on vessels.

"We believe management must be solely responsible and accountable for the high levels of safety shipowners expect. Within this context, we see it as the role of the workforce to report areas of risk and provide suggestions about how such safety risks could be reduced or eliminated."

Russell says SAL acknowledges the waterfront is a high risk work setting which does require special attention.

"We are very concerned to ensure that safety issues are a high priority," he says.

Russell adds the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has issued a Marine Order (Part 32) covering these matters including the use of hatchmen in certain circumstances.

"However, the MUA revision includes matters different from and in addition to this Marine Order," he says.

"Shipping Australia supports a code of practice which is a guidelines document rather than being made mandatory to ensure flexibility."

"We would prefer to sit down with the MUA and negotiate the issues properly rather than through the confrontational manner the union is currently taking."

Qube Logistics confirms to SupplyChain Review
it is
"totally supportive" of the introduction of a new stevedoring code of practice.

"Qube is working as a member of the Temporary Advisory
Group which is chaired by SafeWork Australia.
We believe we can contribute to ensure the new code is both technically correct and practical to promote safer working at out ports," the company says.

"The code remains a work in progress and we continue to co-operate with all stakeholders to develop a final document as soon as possible."

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


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire