Photo: Illustration; Image courtesy: Navingo

MUA calls off industrial action plans for DPWA as liners battle congestion

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) withdrew its industrial action at DP World Australia, according to Shipping Australia Ltd.

“Shipping Australia understands that a written undertaking has now been given to the Fair Work Commission that no further notices of industrial action at Port Botany will be submitted before November 1 2020,” the shipowner association said.

At the beginning of September, unionized workers voted to undertake protected industrial action at Patrick, Hutchinson, and DP World terminals at Brisbane, Freemantle, Sydney, and Melbourne in Australia after negotiations on a new enterprise agreement broke down with the employers.

Under the plans, Patrick Terminal was facing work stoppages of up to 24 hours on multiple days in the first half of September across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Fremantle Patrick Terminals. 

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) told Offshore Energy-Green Marine on September 10 that negotiations with Hutchison Ports Australia and Patrick are ongoing, with protected industrial action currently occurring at both companies.

There has been no industrial action at DP World Australia so far, although the union had notified the company of their intention to take future action.

Until now, the industrial action at Patrick’s Port Botany terminal involved a four-hour stoppage along with bans on upgrading to higher positions and bans on overtime.

“This industrial action is a response to Patrick’s proposed agreement, which seeks to impose unilateral management prerogative over all aspects of the workplace, removing any input by workers into the rosters, hours of work, breaks, salaries, and skill development. The scale of these cuts to basic employment conditions would wind back the clock 20 years,” MUA said.

The union is yet to provide Offshore Energy – Green Marine with an update on the ongoing industrial action and future plans.

DP World Australia said in a customer statement cited by Shipping Australia that a normal service will resume and that the company expects to be able to pursue a final enterprise agreement.

“Without the distraction of bans and limitations, we anticipate we’ll be able to progress outstanding local matters at DP World Sydney in the pursuit of a finalised enterprise agreement,” the company added.

The case was due to be heard by the Fair Work Commission on Saturday, September 19.

Several liner companies have been experiencing delays at Australian terminals due to the ongoing developments.

Liner major Maersk said earlier today that it was experiencing disruption on its network schedule due to ongoing congestion and industrial action at Sydney port, it has experienced disruption to our network schedule, resulting in significant delays.

“To remove uncertainty for our customers supply chain and to assist handling of our vessels calling Sydney, Maersk is taking the difficult decision to temporarily stop acceptance of all new bookings from Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India Sub-Continent to Sydney effective immediately,” the company added.

“It is expected we will re-open booking acceptance for Sydney from October 1 but will continue to review the situation and open earlier if possible.”

Booking acceptance remains open for all other Australian ports.

Maersk’s 2M Alliance partner MSC is applying a congestion surcharge to maintain service at the required level at Sydney’s terminals.

A surcharge of $300 per TEU was introduced to:

  • Import cargo: for vessel arrival on the 14 September and onward
  • Export cargo: from blading date 14 September and onward
  • For Import cargo from the U.S: from cargo possession on 8 October
  • For Export cargo to the U.S.: from cargo possession on 8 October

Due to the ongoing congestion, last week Hapag-Lloyd omitted MV Brotonne Bridge’s call at Sydney, discharging containers at Melbourne to be picked up by another ship and taken to Sydney.