13/01/2020 - 15:50

DP World strike as IR battle continues

13/01/2020 - 15:50

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Workers at the DP World terminal at Fremantle Ports are striking today after negotiations between the company and union broke down over provisions to restrict automation and outsourcing in a draft bargaining agreement.

DP World strike as IR battle continues
Fremantle Ports is WA's major container port. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Workers at the DP World terminal at Fremantle Ports are striking today after negotiations between the company and union broke down over provisions to restrict automation and outsourcing in a draft bargaining agreement.

About 200 Maritime Union of Australia members employed at the terminal have stopped work for 24 hours, while workers at other DP World terminals are also striking.

DP World terminals chief operating officer Andrew Adam said the employee representatives and the company had agreed to an in-principle deal in August.

That included a 3 per cent per annum pay rise for workers and improved roster flexibility to minimise idle shifts, when there were no ships in port to be unloaded.

Mr Adam told Business News drafting of the agreement had nearly been completed, but the union had walked away from the deal.

The biggest issues of contention were now around automation and outsourcing, he said.

No automation or outsourcing would be allowed without agreement from the union under the proposed changes, Mr Adam said.

That marries up with concerns the MUA has had about a new outer harbour in planning through the Westport taskforce, where the union has reportedly been worried about the impact of automation on jobs.

MUA west coast branch secretary Christy Cain said negotiations had continued for more than 15 months.

He said the union was lobbying for provisions around domestic violence leave and parental leave.

“What we’ve seen in that time is the senior management of the Dubai-based company issue ultimatums, threaten massive job cuts, and attempt to unilaterally strip away workplace rights, all in an effort to force workers to accept their demands,” Mr Cain said.

“Dubai Ports needs to understand that Australian wharfies will not be bullied into handing over hard-won rights and conditions, and we are prepared to fight to ensure we receive our fair share of the productivity gains we have delivered on the waterfront.

“By stopping work for 24 hours, then imposing ongoing stoppages and bans in the days and weeks ahead, Fremantle wharfies are sending a clear message that they are willing to fight for a fair agreement that includes important job protections and workplace rights.

“They are also showing their anger at DP World’s failure to bargain in good faith, and ensuring the company realises that they will absolutely not accept a situation where these negotiations continue to drag on for month after month with no resolution in sight.

“The MUA remains ready and willing to resolve this dispute and bring an end to this escalating industrial action, but that can’t occur until DP World management start to genuinely negotiate in good faith.”

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