Wharfies at DP World’s Brisbane, Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne container terminals have launched a series of strikes against automation, outsourcing, cuts to income protection insurance and dishonest bargaining, according to the Maritime Union of Australia.
A two day strike began in Brisbane in the morning hours of July 8, the first in a series of 48 to 96 hour work stoppages planned for container terminals 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, the MUA informed.
Workers have also imposed a range of indefinite work bans, including bans on upgrades, overtime, and shift extensions. DP World reportedly 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,” MUA said.
The industrial action follows the expiry of a three month cease-fire agreement between DP World and the MUA, which saw the company press ahead with an agenda of job cuts and attacks on rights and conditions. Income protection for workers remains 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 DP World’s application and reaffirmed the legal and protected nature of the strikes, stating that they could continue.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said DPW management were also insisting on including provisions in a new workplace agreement that could see waterfront jobs lost to outsourcing and automation.
“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,” Smith added.
“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.”