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Union Offers Peace Deal To End Dock Strike

The Maritime Union Australia (MUA) is expected to offer a peace deal at a Fair Work Commission hearing on Thursday to end the disruptive Patrick Terminal strike.

The wharf wars have been threatening Australia’s supply chain and retailers have been warned of Christmas stock shortages after 100,000 containers across the country were caught up in the pay dispute.

“The union proposal would see the existing workplace agreement rolled over for another 12 months, maintaining the status quo in relation to workplace rights and conditions, while providing a reasonable and affordable 2.5 per cent pay increase to wharfies,” the MUA said in a statement.

“Our proposal does not seek to modify a single word of the existing agreement, so there is no change to the arrangements that Patrick has successfully and profitably operated their container terminals under.

“This peace deal would result in the immediate end to all industrial action at Patrick container terminals, now and for the duration of the agreement.”

The MUA has been demanding an annual six per cent pay rise over for years for its members and banned overtime and filling in for senior roles. Currently,  a full-time employee at Sydney’s  Port Botany on a 35 hour week earns $172,124, while workers on a 31.5 hour roster earn $145,183.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said if Patrick was serious about resolving the dispute in the interest of their customers and the broader community, they would accept the union’s genuine offer.

“The truth is, this dispute has never been about money, it’s been about Patrick’s desire to slash the conditions of their workforce under the cover of the COVID crisis,” Crumlin said.

“If the company steps back from their proposal to slash 50 pages of conditions from the current agreement — clauses that govern things like rosters, hours of work, and family-friendly provisions — we could have an agreement today that ends this dispute.

“By locking in a 12 month peace deal, it also gives both parties the opportunity to come together in a mature way and undertake genuine bargaining about what a future agreement would look like.

“If Patrick refuses this peace offer, the Australian public will be left in no doubt which party is responsible for escalating this unnecessary conflict at such a difficult time for the nation.”

The dispute reached new heights when Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in, lashing out at ‘militant’ union workers for holding Australia to ransom.

“We cannot have the militant end of the union movement effectively engaging in a campaign of extortion against the Australian people in the middle of a COVID-19 recession,” Morrison said.

“Australians are doing it so tough. We will take what steps are necessary to ensure that this can be brought to a more meaningful and swift conclusion.”

Suppliers have warned if the industrial dispute continues for even a few extra days, Australia could face four to six week shipping delays that may run into the Christmas period.

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