Industrial action escalates at DP World Australia

Impasse continues to hamper supply chain as job losses threatened

Industrial action escalates at DP World Australia
DP World's Brisbane terminal


Container transport continues to be affected by stalled negotiations as a new round of industrial action kicked off at DP World Australia (DPWA) sites today.

More than 600 Sydney workers were set to walk off the job for 48 hours while 350 Brisbane wharfies commenced a series of one-hour strikes at the start of every shift.

There are also planned disruptions for Fremantle, where work will stop for 24 hours from Saturday morning.

The latest strike action follows a series of coordinated stoppages that shut DP World container terminals for between 48 and 96 hours last week, involving more than 1,800 workers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle.

Read more about how the situation at DPWA originally unfolded, here

Workers at all four terminals are also maintaining a range of indefinite work bans, including bans on upgrades, overtime, and shift extensions, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says.

The campaign aims to finalise a workplace agreement that would protect workers "against outsourcing, automation, cuts to conditions such as income protection and in support of domestic violence provisions in the new agreement".

MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith says DP World is refusing to meet to negotiate a resolution.

"Rather than bargain, management have basically told workers to withdraw their claims entirely and accept the company’s offer or there will be no agreement," Smith says.

"We simply will not do this. Most of the worker’s claims are not cost claims, they are about protecting our current conditions which were hard won and fought for historically by a previous generation. It’s not up to us to undo the historical legacy of wharfies and we won’t.

"We also want job-saving protections and commitments from the company covering any future decision to replace wharfies with robots at these terminals.

"The escalation of this rolling industrial action is driven by our members and we support them 100 per cent in protecting their jobs for future generations."

The MUA says it is still willing to find a resolution with DPWA and has consistently sought meetings at a national and branch level "which have been rejected by DP World management".

This has been rejected by DPWA, which says it had reduced 24 original claims in its enterprise bargaining to five, while the union had only dropped six of its 59 original claims, failing to recognise the stevedore’s "commercial realities".


DPWA also announced it will make redundant 200 staff (100 in Melbourne and 100 in Sydney) - comprising more than 10 per cent of its workforce.

"In the absence of significant negotiation progress over the past nine months, the Company must push on and address the impact of volume losses," COO Andrew Adam says.

"We have been very patient, but further restructures of our workforce have become necessary. We have not taken the decision to downsize lightly.

"The union have repeatedly demonstrated a dogged unwillingness to make any concessions on their claims.

"We are always prepared to meet with the Union to negotiate, provided those meetings will be constructive."

It notes 40 ships and up to 110,000 containers have been delayed, with four ships offloaded to other stevedores.

Supply chains report losses of more than $5 million a week as a result of delays to the loading of imports and exports stuck at major ports, Fairfax notes.

Smith slams the timing and circumstances of the announcement.

"This is corporate bullying and intimidation using the livelihoods of wharfies in an attempt to intimidate the workforce into accepting anything the company wants.

"This situation, where a massive multinational company is showing total contempt for Australian workers and their families, shows once again how broken our country’s workplace laws are."



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