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MUA responds as Dubai Ports managers walk away from negotiations

The MUA says negotiations have been impacted between the Union and Dubai Ports as managers walk away until late January

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says Dubai Ports managers have walked away from negotiations on the cusp of Christmas in the latest blow to industrial discussions.

The prospect of agreement at one of Australia’s three major stevedoring employers has been impacted by management and HR representatives from Dubai Ports have walked away from negotiations with the MUA, citing DP World’s white-collar summer shutdown as the reason despite wharfies being expected to work across the holiday period.

At the close of six days of facilitated bargaining meetings which the Union had forced the company to engage with by application to the Fair Work Commission, an in-principle agreement wasn’t reached to deliver fair pay, job security and safe working conditions at four container terminals in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Rather than continue negotiating, company representatives sought to shelve all further meetings until January 29 next year.

“Dubai Ports’ management team dragged their feet and failed to settle an in-principle agreement during six days of facilitated bargaining, which concluded on Saturday afternoon,” MUA assistant national secretary Adrian Evans says.

“The MUA has been bargaining with Dubai Ports since March 2023 with very little movement. The Union had suspended our protected industrial action while there was progress in negotiations and we had hoped to reach an in-principle agreement last week, but at the end of the sixth day there were still key issues outstanding and the company indicated they were unavailable to meet until January 29 at the earliest, some seven weeks away.”

Dubai Ports has flagged fees for freight customers would rise at their four ports by as much as 52 per cent in the new year. The MUA says wharfies are asking for a pay rise that keeps up with the cost-of-living crisis, while at the same time the company gouges from small businesses, trucking companies and, through them, Australian consumers.

The Union has flagged that – if the company cannot be bothered to participate in bargaining before the beginning of the second month of 2024 – the program of protected industrial action the workforce had pursued in recent months would recommence.

“Workers are left with no option but to recommence lawful, legitimate and reasonable protected industrial action in order to get an agreement in a timely manner,” Evans says.

“DP World’s Australian managers, and their ideologically driven legal representatives, only have themselves to blame for this collapse in the bargaining process. The MUA remain available to meet to bring the negotiations to a close, but management seem more focussed on their Christmas holidays while expecting wharfies continue to work 24/7 throughout the holiday season.”

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