Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Union Protests Aimed at Shipping Giant with Regard to Staffing Agreements

Work Ceases as Row Continues to Simmer
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – It appears the ongoing row between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the A P Moller Maersk group is continuing unabated. According to the union last year Maersk Supply Service sought to have its members paid international rates, something that was dismissed out of hand.

The MUA says subsequently the company then moved to engage foreign crews to replace the Australian crew even though the vessel concerned was still working in Western Australia. It accused Maersk of using cost mitigation initiatives, including replacing Australian workers on union agreements with cheaper overseas workers, to increase profits to improve operating earnings by 25%.

Towage outfit Svitzer is part of the Maersk group and also stands accused by the MUA of terminating an agreed contract with a company that has been paying union rates and conditions. It claims the contract has been gifted to a non-union organisation seeking to pay the minimum wage. Furthermore it says Svitzer ‘has also sought to throw 30 additional claims on the table while bargaining for a replacement national towage agreement. The company is seeking to rip away the years of conditions fought and won by our predecessors. All these attacks on the MUA will only lead to one road, we will fight back.’

In the latest news, gleaned from the GAC Hot news bulletin, the MUA is engaging in further industrial action, already under way. All members of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) employed by Svitzer Australia Pty Ltd intend to engage in bans on the performance of work on Maersk shipping line vessels from 12:01am Tuesday, 12 January 2021 through to 11:59pm on Friday 15 January 2021.

These bans will continue on Maersk shipping line vessels from 12:01am Tuesday, 19 January 2021 through to 11:59pm on Friday 22 January 2021 and from 12:01am Tuesday, 26 January 2021 through to 11:59pm on Friday 29 January 2021. The Protected Industrial Action is widespread and shall be taken at the following ports covered by the Svitzer Australia Pty Limited National Towage Enterprise Agreement 2016:

Adelaide, Albany, Bowen, Brisbane, Cairns, Eden, Fremantle, Geelong, Geraldton, Kwinana, Melbourne, Mourilyan, Newcastle, Port Kembla, Port Pirie, Spencer Gulf (Whyalla), Sydney (Port Jackson & Port Botany), Westernport.

Photo: Courtesy of Svitzer.