Tug crews postpone planned industrial action

Image used for representation only (Image courtesy: Maritime Union Of Australia)

The crews of the Port Melbourne and Westernport tugs have postponed the legally protected industrial action, which was due to begin this afternoon, after Svitzer Australia agreed to return to the negotiating table.

The Maritime Union of Australia has been trying to negotiate a new corporate agreement with the company for almost two years.

Svitzer Australia, Australia’s largest towing service operator with a fleet of over 100 tugs in 28 ports, is owned by the world’s largest container and supply vessel operator, Maersk.

The union and the company will also discuss potential options for the internalization and expansion of towing operations, including in the port of Geelong where 18 workers were laid off last year.

MUA’s Victorian branch deputy secretary David Ball said the planned industrial action was always aimed at getting Svitzer back to the negotiating table and negotiating in good faith.

“This planned action was completely legal and only happened because of Svitzer’s refusal to negotiate on key issues, including some of their demands which threatened to reduce the rights, conditions and job security of the Australian workers, ”Ball said.

“Over the past few days, we have made significant progress as the company has agreed to genuinely negotiate on these important outstanding issues.
“As the planned industrial action was still aimed at bringing the company back to the bargaining table and that objective was met, the tug crews at Port Melbourne and Westernport have postponed the planned industrial action today.

“Our members continued to work throughout the COVID crisis, maintaining essential supplies for the Victorian community, but despite these efforts, they faced attacks on their livelihoods from this very multinational company. profitable.

Ball said the company also agreed to have talks with the union regarding Geelong tug crews, which were laid off last year and replaced with employees who hire labor by air. .

“We are continuing our campaign to bring local jobs back to the port of Geelong,” he said.

“Svitzer’s decision to lay off the local tugboat crews and then restart marine towing services at the port with a contractor using workers hired by air and air, is simply an unacceptable way to treat Australian workers.”

News from the Sea, July 23

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