MUA shut out of Toll Mermaid in Broome


Stretching definition of ‘waterside worker’ fails to impress the Fair Work Commission

MUA shut out of Toll Mermaid in Broome
The Fair Work Commission has ruled against the Maritime Union representing workers at Toll Mermaid Logistics in Broome

 

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) won’t have a seat at the table when Broome-based Toll Mermaid Logistics negotiates a new enterprise agreement.

This is the second knock-back this year for the union's efforts to break its shrinking maritime shackles after its port trucking push failed in April

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled the duties of the supply-base operators and leading hands that will be covered by the agreement are not in line with the definition of a "waterside worker" that would naturally be represented by the MUA.

Toll Mermaid Logistics managers argued that, while close to the Broome wharf, the company’s three supply bases were not related to operations there.

Instead, goods both enter and leave the bases via road.

The MUA said most cargo ends up at the port, and Toll Mermaid Logistics employees are responsible for preparing it for sea-passage, work that falls into the scope of the national stevedoring award.

FWC commissioner Danny Cloghan agreed there were some stevedoring-type operations involved, but says a line needs to be drawn somewhere – lest farmers of export grain be considered stevedores because of their early role in a supply chain involving sea freight.

"The plain and ordinary meaning of the work of a ‘waterside worker’, is the loading and unloading vessels, but it may also include work which involves the relocation, stacking and the arranging of cargo unloaded from ships prior to its ultimate removal from the wharf," he says.

"At most, the duties involved the preparation of materials which eventually would be loaded onto a truck and delivered in such a way that it could be lifted directly onto the vessel."

Cloghan noted that the employer had existed since 2000 but the MUA had never previously sought entry to it.

"Accordingly, I think a strong inference can be made that the MUA has, until recent times, not considered the employees ‘waterside workers’," he says.

Employees at Toll Mermaid Logistics are currently covered by a site-specific non-union enterprise agreement.

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