Wharfies strike after protracted talks

Fremantle Port. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Fremantle Port. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

WHARFIES at Fremantle port in Western Australia have again downed tools after more than one year of fruitless workplace agreement negotiations.

The Maritime Union of Australia says 200 wharfies stopped work for 24 hours from Sunday night, accusing the nation’s biggest stevedore DP World Australia of failing to bargain in good faith.

The Dubai-based company was sought for comment.

Workers said they had been left with no choice but to take industrial action in a bid to finalise a new workplace agreement that addresses important issues around job security and locks in workplace conditions such as parental leave and domestic violence leave.

“Wharfies at DP World’s Fremantle terminal are simply fed up after attempting to negotiate a new workplace agreement for 15 months,” MUA West Coast Branch Secretary Christy Cain said.

“What we’ve seen in that time is the senior management of the Dubai-based company issue ultimatums, threaten massive job cuts, and attempt to unilaterally strip away workplace rights, all in an effort to force workers to accept their demands.

“Dubai Ports needs to understand that Australian wharfies will not be bullied into handing over hard-won rights and conditions, and we are prepared to fight to ensure we receive our fair share of the productivity gains we have delivered on the waterfront.

“By stopping work for 24 hours, then imposing ongoing stoppages and bans in the days and weeks ahead, Fremantle wharfies are sending a clear message that they are willing to fight for a fair agreement that includes important job protections and workplace rights.

“They are also showing their anger at DP World’s failure to bargain in good faith, and ensuring the company realises that they will absolutely not accept a situation where these negotiations continue to drag on for month after month with no resolution in sight.

“The MUA remains ready and willing to resolve this dispute and bring an end to this escalating industrial action, but that can’t occur until DP World management start to genuinely negotiate in good faith.”