DP World, union agree on 3-year workplace deal for Sydney terminal

DP World Australia has reached an in-principle workplace agreement with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) for its Sydney Terminal in Port Botany.

The three-year agreement stipulates a wage increase for the workers, who will refrain from protected industrial action during the contract duration to ensure the supply chain remains undisrupted.

“I’m pleased we have reached an in-principle agreement at DP World Sydney that provides a wage increase for our employees as well as enabling productivity improvements which enhance our service levels,” Chief Operating Officer at DP World Australia, Terminals, Andrew Adam said.

The port operator added that the planned industrial action had been withdrawn at all DP World’s terminals in Brisbane, Fremantle and Melbourne.

The act is seen as a sign of good faith as the two sides continue talks on in-principle agreements at DP World’s remaining terminals and progress a complete enterprise agreement.

Shipping Australia CEO Rod Nairn welcomed the news that industrial action could be coming to an end at DP World’s terminals.

“Respite from disruption will give the industry a chance to start working on the backlog of containers – particularly empty boxes – that are causing severe congestion in the major container ports.  But it will take a while for ships’ schedules to return to normal.  

“We hope that withdrawal of industrial action across part of the waterfront has not come so late that the forecast bumper exports of agricultural-produce will be adversely affected,” he added.

The union has also decided to voluntarily withdraw all planned industrial action at Patrick Terminals in Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane, and Fremantle, ahead of a hearing before the Fair Work Commission scheduled for late October.

A new hearing is set to take place because the two sides failed to reach a deal on a new workplace deal after a two-day conciliatory hearing before the FWC at the beginning of this week.

The union has proposed to maintain the same workplace terms and conditions for the next two years and a pay increase, however, the terminal operator was not on board with the proposed increase.

Patrick Terminals estimates that there are more than 100 thousand containers caught up in the industrial dispute across its terminals.

In addition, the company released a list of 38 ships being held up around Australia and en route from Asia.

Patric Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic said the company will avail of the industrial action stoppage to clear the backlog at its terminals, which is estimated to take between two and three months.

The industrial action has been criticized by the Australian government authorities, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison even threatened to send troops to break the port workers’ industrial action.

The Prime Minister said work stoppages were causing massive delays in the delivery of goods at a time when food and medicine supply was critical given the ongoing pandemic.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) intervened in the dispute, saying the collective bargaining for a fair industrial agreement was a human right.

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