ALC urges union to back down in ports dispute

Coningham airs concerns at impact of standoff on supply chain

ALC urges union to back down in ports dispute
Kirk Coningham


The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has thrown itself into the ports conflict, denouncing the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMMEU’s) industrial action against DP World.

The CFMMEU-affiliated Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has been involved in protracted negotiations with the stevedore, with the latter responding to the former’s enterprise bargaining strikes by announcing its intentions to retrench 200 workers.

Read about the most recent round of industrial action against DP World, here

ALC CEO Kirk Coningham says the disruption is producing negative effects for Australian businesses and households.

"The current industrial action being undertaken is estimated to already have delayed up to 110,000 shipping containers carrying the sorts of goods Australian businesses and households rely on every single day," Coningham says.

"Boosting productivity on the waterfront will be critical to maintain Australia’s international competitiveness, and to our ability to meet a growing domestic freight task.

"This is something that stevedores, port operators and shipping lines have long recognised. It is time unions did the same."

The ALC points to a "different economic reality" due to changing demand patterns and new technologies.

"To ensure sustainability into the future, our supply chains will need to embrace the greater use of technology in day-to-day operations," Coningham adds.

"Rather than retreating to the tired tactics of yesteryear and pursuing unviable claims, the CFMMEU should embrace this new reality by working cooperatively with stevedores like DP World Australia and others to ensure the workforce is equipped with the skills needed to adapt to a changing world.

"The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report 2017-18 found that Australia’s quayside productivity levels do not compare favorably with those of other industrialised nations.

"Our crane productivity has trended down since 2011-12.

"It is essential that we address and reverse that trend in order to maintain our living standards and meet rising demand for freight."

Protracted industrial action accompanied by unrealistic demands for inflexible protections in enterprise agreements is not going to achieve that outcome, ALC adds.

"It will simply drive up costs, threatening the viability of stevedoring operations in Australia and forcing employers to seek new ways of doing business.

"Australian consumers should not be paying the price for a protracted industrial dispute that directly jeopardises jobs on the waterfront, and indirectly threatens jobs right through the supply chain."


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