Escalation of industrial action sees stevedore up the ante
Patrick Terminals has lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to terminate its enterprise agreement (EA) with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
The stevedore appears to have lost patience with its unionised workforce after months of disruption and years of new EA talks and has requested an expedited hearing of this application with the FWC.
“The agreement is no longer fit for purpose, as it contains a number of operational restrictions that have limited the ability of Patrick to meet customer requirements at a time of congestion in global supply chains,” Patrick said.
“Patrick has been negotiating with its employees and the MUA since February 2020 to seek to address these restrictions and has held more than 70 meetings in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement.”
The MUA has launched more than 220 industrial actions against Patrick nationally during the negotiation period, the stevedore noted.
This has intensified recently with further action launched at all four of Patrick’s terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle for the coming days and weeks.
“Enough is enough. We have presented the MUA with an attractive national offer on top of their already very generous agreement including a 10% pay increase across four years coupled with protections addressing concerns over the use of casuals and job security,” Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic said.
“Negotiations have been ongoing for close to two years and frankly there seems to be no agreement to be had, particularly in Sydney, where the union is still demanding we hire from a selected list of family and friends.
“We have today lodged an application with the FWC for an order terminating our current agreement.
“We are at the end of the road and need to have an agreement with our employees that works for our customers, and that allows us to remain competitive in the future market.”
Terminating the agreement will allow Patrick to recruit and train employees without needing the agreement of the union and remove any union-imposed “friends and family” restrictions.
“The world has changed, and we need to be able to recruit and promote the best people for the job rather than be hamstrung by antiquated Union-led processes and policies that restrict our business,” Jovicic said.
“Our market share and business operations have suffered due to this relentless industrial campaign by the MUA and their insidious ‘jobs for the boys’ stance.
“We need to provide our customers with operational certainty and that includes a workable agreement with our employees. Our customers are demanding that we take action to resolve this situation.”
Patrick said it had guaranteed not to change leave entitlements, salaries and other rates of pay that are applicable under the Enterprise Agreement for employees for a period of 6 months from the date of any termination order, probably next year.
Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) welcomed the Patrick move, “given the extremely economically damaging nature of the strike actions which continue to be perpetrated by the MUA and Patrick’s employees on the stevedoring company”.
“However, irrespective of whether Patrick’s application to the FWC to terminate the current EA is successful, or even if there is a different outcome such as suspension or termination of the protected industrial actions, Patrick and its workforce will still need to reach agreement at some point in time on future remuneration and operational conditions of employment,” CTAA director Neil Chambers said.
Earlier, Jovicic warned that the MUA had made 19 new industrial notifications of rolling 12-hour strike actions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the coming fortnight at Patrick’s Melbourne terminal and there is to be a 24-hour stoppage in Sydney on Melbourne Cup Day, next Tuesday.
This was on top of bans and rolling stoppages nation-wide.