Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and stevedoring company Hutchison Ports Australia have agreed to return to the negotiating table following the sacking of 97 wharfies three weeks ago.
The MUA and Hutchison have agreed to a six-week negotiation process to be overseen by the Fair Work Commission (FWC), deferring a Federal Court case which was set to begin next week.
“The MUA welcomes a mature and normal process of consultation and negotiation with Hutchison – that’s what we have been after all along,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.
“It’s pleasing that Hutchison has returned to the negotiating table rather than sacking workers at midnight by text and email and preventing them from clearing out their own lockers. We look forward to the fact that if this new attitude is maintained by the company – because it certainly will be by the MUA – then a solution can be found that both deals with the difficult commercial reality the company is facing and repairs the damage that has been done to the company’s relationship with its workers over the past few weeks.”
FWC Deputy President Anna Booth released a statement today, outlining private meetings set down for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week in Sydney.
“The parties have met in conciliation before me on a number of occasions, most recently on Thursday 27 August 2015, in an effort to resolve the dispute between them,” Booth said.
“They have reached an agreement to adjourn the Federal Court proceedings that relate to this dispute and to put their efforts into resolving this dispute through further conciliation before me. I believe the parties are committed to reaching an agreement that best meets the interests of Hutchisons Ports, its employees, the Maritime Union of Australia and its members.”
The Australian Federal Court granted earlier this month a temporary injunction preventing Hutchison from sacking 97 dockworkers at ports in Sydney and Brisbane, and ordering their return to work at least until the full hearing of the dispute which was scheduled for August 31.
Meanwhile, Hutchison Ports worker Scott Matthewson yesterday told a local radio station that sacked workers were still not rostered on and had not yet received their belongings out of lockers.