Stevedores told to clean up their act at Kwinana

Cleaning is a necessary part of duties at the Kwinana Bulk Terminal in Fremantle, the Fair Work Commission has confirmed

Stevedores told to clean up their act at Kwinana
The FWC has ruled in favour of Fremantle Ports in a dispute over cleaning


The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ordered stevedores working at the Kwinana Bulk Terminal in Fremantle to be more thorough in their cleaning duties.

Specifically, the commission agreed with the employer that the Fremantle Ports Bulk and General Stevedoring enterprise agreement does demand they clean underneath the JC01 conveyor on the wharf.

Commissioner Cloghan also confirmed cleaners should be working when there are no vessels docked, and should also cleaning up all residual product and debris, not just that left by the last vessel to dock.

Staff had refused to undertake some cleaning duties for more than a year since the 2012 award came into effect in February 2013.

Arguing on behalf of the 13 dedicated stevedores at Kwinana, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said the agreement allowed for cleaning duties following the performance of stevedoring duties only. It argued this was set out in the agreement as "during operations".

Further, the previous agreement of 2010 had made no mention of cleaning duties at all.

But Cloghan ruled there was no need to specify the exact cleaning requirements in the agreement.

"It would be wrong, in my view, to infer that a lack of reference to "cleaning functions" in the 2010 Modern Award to anything, more or less, than ‘it goes without saying’ that stevedores are expected to carry out cleaning functions as part of their general duties," he says.

The JC01 conveyor was particularly contentious, as it forms the dividing line between wharf and landside operations.

The MUA asserted that stevedores were not required to clean south of the conveyor, and that this should include the area immediately below it.

However, Cloghan noted that the issue had already been discussed with the employer and the union had chosen to ignore its instruction, rather than try to argue its case there and then.

"I am not persuaded that JC01 is some sort of ‘demilitarized zone’ and excluded from the wharf apron," he ruled.

"It would be unfitting to infer that the negotiators to the 2012 Agreement, adopted such an impractical approach to the wharf layout and that cleaning north of the conveyor is the starting point for the north side of the apron."

Cleaning had been an issue at the site for several years, with Fremantle Ports relying on third party contractors to undertake most of the tasks.

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