Following Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers’ (AIMPE) decision to escalate a strike campaign at the nation’s ports, Danish tug operator Svitzer has turned to the Fair Work Commission seeking to terminate these actions, according to GAC.
The move comes as AIMPE revealed plans to expand the initially announced strikes from 12-hour and 24-hour stoppages in the ports to 48 hours.
The AIMPE engineers’ union has proceeded with industrial action as planned on Svitzer operated tugs, with the first round of stoppages completed at Geelong, Newcastle, Sydney/Botany and Brisbane, and the upcoming 12-hour stoppages at Australia’s Western Coast ports of Fremantle and Kwinana today.
Besides the already announced 24-hour stoppages, the union plans to simultaneously stop work for 24 hours at Newcastle, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Geelong on January 19, while operations are expected to be halted for 48 hours in Sydney/Botany, Fremantle and Kwinana on January 18.
Commenting on the industrial action Svitzer said that “the industrial action is not about an engineer’s wages, conditions and qualifications. Under the proposed new single agreement all wages and conditions the engineers receive today will remain unchanged for the next four years. The industrial action is about the engineers not wanting to be on the same enterprise agreement as their crew mates.”
Svitzer claims that the “most disappointing of all is the fact that this situation could have been avoided altogether. Back on the 19th of December the Fair Work Commission in Sydney put a positive proposal to both parties, namely Svitzer hold further discussions with AIMPE and that AIMPE in turn delay taking industrial action. While Svitzer readily agreed to this proposal, AIMPE rejected it out of hand.”
As World Maritime News reported, the strikes, which affect all coal carriers, fuel carriers, car importers and bulk container vessels entering port, are due to the tug crews’ disagreement with Svitzer’s proposed industrial contract which would force three-person crews, consisting of a skipper, a deckhand and an engineer, under a single industrial agreement.
World Maritime News Staff