National waterfront stoppages as DP World attacks wharfies conditions - Brisbane Today
Posted by Mua communications on July 08, 2019
Wharfies are striking for 48 hours at DP World’s Brisbane, Sydney and Fremantle container terminals, and for 96 hours in Melbourne, to fight against automation, outsourcing, cuts to income protection insurance, and dishonest bargaining by the company which is trying to use change provisions in existing agreements to secure outcomes it cannot bargain into new agreements.
The two day strike, which begins Monday morning in Brisbane, is the first in a series of 48 to 96 hour work stoppages planned for container terminals in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Fremantle run by Australia’s largest stevedore. Sydney and Fremantle workers will strike this Thursday and Friday, and Melbourne will be out from Wednesday until Sunday morning. Workers have also imposed a range of indefinite work bans, including bans on upgrades, overtime, and shift extensions. DPW challenged the rights of the Maritime Union of Australia to use bans in the Fair Work Commission, with a decision pending on Monday.
This restriction on utilising the legally protected bans has forced workers into strike action as their legal rights to use the bans was effectively removed by the company and FWC. The industrial action follows the expiry of a three month cease-fire agreement between DPW and the MUA, which saw the company press ahead with a savage agenda of job cuts and attacks on rights and conditions. Income protection for workers remains as a target of the company.
The strikes will proceed after their protected status was confirmed by the FWC on Friday, when the company sought 418 orders to stop workers using strike action. Fair Work Commissioner Paula Spencer dismissed DPW’s application and reaffirmed the legal and protected nature of the strikes, stating that they could continue.
MUA Queensland Secretary Stephen Cumberlidge said DPW management were also insisting on including provisions in a new workplace agreement that could see waterfront jobs lost to outsourcing and automation.
“Our members have shown incredible patience in an attempt to reach resolution with DP World, including by agreeing to hold off on any form of industrial action for three months, but despite that good will management are refusing to budge on these key issues,” Mr Cumberlidge said.
“This major escalation of industrial action is about sending a clear message to management that the safety, dignity, and job security of wharfies are absolutely non-negotiable.
“We are fully committed to reaching an agreement as quickly as possible, however we will not sell our conditions, compromise our core claims, or undermine industry standards to do it.
“Our members have delivered huge increases in productivity to DP World in recent years, which resulted in substantial profits, and all workers want is to receive a fair reward for those efforts.”
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said the company had unnecessarily escalated the conflict earlier this year when it unilaterally stripped workers of income protection insurance.
“Management initially used the wellbeing of workers and their families as a bargaining tool, and wharfies don’t take kindly to that kind of corporate bullying and intimidation,” Mr Smith said.
“The attacks on wharfies have been escalated by DPW beyond income protection, with outsourcing, automation and downright dishonest bargaining processes by DPW being targeted by workers.
“We will not roll over and accept an unfair agreement, we won’t accept unilateral attacks on workplace rights and conditions, and we won’t stand by while outsourcing and automation are used to axe quality jobs from the Australian waterfront.
DP World Australia Calls for End to Industrial Action
Illustration; Image Courtesy: DP World London Gateway
DP World Australia (DPWA) has called for an end to industrial action across its terminals that escalated after the expiry of a three month cease-fire deal between the terminal operator and the union.
The company said that it is “disappointed” that the Australian Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) escalated their industrial action across a number of terminals, particularly at a time when shipping lines are reviewing stevedore contracts.
“The industrial action will cause significant disruption to DPWA customers and importantly the broader supply chain of shippers, exporters and importers. DPWA employees will also be unnecessarily and avoidably impacted by these lost earnings,” Andrew Adam, Chief Operating Officer at DPWA, said.
During the recent 12-week bargaining period, the union did not make any material concessions to their initial 50 claims, DPWA said, adding that the claims included a wage increase well above CPI, without any willingness to support the needs of DPWA. The company further said that the union continued to demonstrate an alarming refusal to acknowledge the commercial reality of the intense competition from automated competitors.
“The company has put forward its position and the union must now make appropriate concessions to their extensive list of claims,” Adam said.