HPA to Cut Almost Half of Its Workforce, MUA to Fight Back

Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) is about to lay off almost half of its waterfront workforce at Port Botany and Brisbane, Australia as it pushes forward with automation plans.

Namely, according to the Maritime Union Australia (MUA), HPA is said to be planning to cut 97 out of 224 jobs – more than 40% of its workforce – at the two ports.

Responding to the announcement, the MUA said it would unleash every tool available – legal, political and industrial – to stop this from happening.

“The MUA is greatly concerned that HPA management is walking around with a “hatchet list” – picking off delegates and activists in a bid to bust union influence,” the union said.

The strategy, dubbed “Phoenix Rising,” by the company, is a tool to bring in automation without negotiation, MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said, stressing that workers were being ranked like animals at a fair.

“It’s basically sneaking automated equipment in under the noses of the MUA, so there is no requirement to have negotiated manning levels or coverage,” he added.

“We will make sure this company adheres to its moral obligations and commitments given to the MUA when it started, to operate in a cooperative and collaborative manner.”

The union noted that it was prepared to accept job cuts if the company could justify them.

“If they’re genuine, we are prepared to come back with a range of creative solutions to get through whatever difficult times the company is confronting,” Smith said.

The MUA said that union members at Hutchison will stop work for four hours on Thursday and Monday, adding that their enterprise agreement does not expire until February.

HPA operates international container terminals in Port Botany and the Port of Brisbane, Brisbane Container Terminals and Sydney International Container Terminals.

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