Wharf Wars Delaying Shipments For Weeks, Terminal Attempts To Quash Protests
Patrick Terminals has attempted to shut down the disruptive maritime union strikes across the country which has caused massive delays in shipments at Sydney’s Port Botany.
After last week’s Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) announcement that it intended to strike for 24 hours in Brisbane and Sydney, the stevedores responded with an application to the Fair Work Commission to ask for a ceasefire.
The wharf war is threatening Australia’s supply chain with potential delays up to three weeks for vital goods.
The stevedores’ application is on the basis the strikes will cause significant damage to an already weakened economy due to COVID-19.
Patrick also asked the Morrison government to intervene, citing each day of lost operations could cost up to $165 million in imports and $67 million in exports.
Industrial relations minister Christian Porter confirmed to The Guardian the federal government will side with Patrick, describing the union strike as a “threat to our economic recovery”.
The Morrison government labelled the MUA’s actions as “holding the country to ransom” over the weekend.
“For a union to be attempting to hold the national economy to ransom to leverage its push for a 6% annual pay rise is simply unforgivable, especially at a time when we are in the grip of a global health and economic crisis,” Porter said.
Sydney’s Port Botany is the worst hit terminal and imports such as electrical and medical goods, autoparts, meat, clothing and infrastructure materials are facing three-week delays or ramped up costs if the ships are diverted to Melbourne.
Patrick CEO Michael Jovicic slammed the MUA’s actions – which is in pursuit of a 6 per cent annual pay rise – as “un-Australian”.
“Frankly enough is enough. We have been in talks for seven months on a new enterprise agreement and the MUA have been inflicting strikes, go slows and work bans on the company for nearly a month,” Jovicic said.
“I’m bewildered that the MUA would take such damaging action in the midst of a pandemic. It’s un-Australian and does them no credit.”
The MUA offered a ceasefire if Patrick agreed to withdraw claims, which included scrapping 50 pages of conditions from the enterprise agreement. The company has refused.
At least 40 ships are stranded off the coast of New South Wales waiting to unload.
“Port Botany is running three weeks behind schedule and our Melbourne terminal more than a week,” Jovicic added.
“We now have close to 90,000 containers being held up and there’s no end in sight. Frankly, enough is enough.”