Hutchison wharfies strike over automation

Wharfies in Sydney and Brisbane walked off the job for 24 hours on Friday (05/04) to protest Hutchison Ports ongoing refusal to move away from outsourcing of jobs and overseas remote controlling of already semi-automated equipment.
“Outsourcing our jobs for greater profit and remote controlling to workers who may be paid $2 per hour will continue to be challenged by the workforce and their union,” Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Warren Smith said.
“Wharfies’ work is wharfies’ work and we will resist every effort to give that work to others regardless of how much or little they are paid, we suspect little in this case.”
The union has had several instances and clear cases of harassment identified in its Brisbane operation, drawing scathing criticism from the Queensland Branch.
MUA QLD assistant branch secretary Paul Petersen said: “This is not a fight about wages, this is a fight for basic conditions, job security and not having our jobs outsourced overseas. It’s about automation and not being replaced by a robot and most importantly it’s about being able to work in a safe environment free from harassment.”
The situation in Sydney has seen the constant and vigilant action of the MUA Sydney Branch save lives in an environment where safety is not treated with the priority it should be by Hutchison Ports.
MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer said: “Hutchison’s notorious anti-union agenda around the world is attempting to sink the wages and conditions, job security, and health and safety of wharfies in Sydney and Brisbane.
“Their plan to be the budget airways of Australian stevedores seeks to undermine decades of work to create jobs with justice and dignity, all so they can return more profits to one of the richest men on earth.
“The MUA will fight this billionaire for as long as it takes to win an Enterprise Agreement that our members can be proud of.”
Mr Smith blamed Hutchison management for forcing the hand of workers.
“Hutchison has not picked up the phone once to try and schedule meetings despite us having tried to do so,” he said.
“They tell blatant anti-union lies to their workforce to foster division and discontent.
“It’s the same tactics we see from this company all around the world and we’re a wake up to it and will fight it.”

Up to 200 Fremantle port workers set to strike

Long-standing industrial peace on the wharves is set to end with stevedores as Patrick container terminals to strike next week as part of a nationwide stoppage. 

Up to 200 stevedores at Patrick's Fremantle terminal, and their counterparts in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, will strike on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to force a guarantee on current job numbers as part of the next enterprise bargaining agreement.

The Maritime Union of Australia claims there are fears of widespread redundancies amid increasing automation in the industry.

The first stoppage will start at 7am on Monday and last for 24 hours, followed by a four-hour stoppage at 11am on Tuesday.

MUA deputy national secretary Will Tracey said the protected industrial action would affect exports through the container terminal, which involved mostly consumer products. He claimed it would not affect primary producers who had been hit by fires in the South West.

Mr Tracey said the stoppage was not about money but about ensuring job security as container terminals owner Asciano attempted to sell the assets.

"The number of jobs there at the moment are justified operationally, and we want to ensure that remains the case," he said.

"We want to make sure jobs are not put on the line as part of trying to maximise the asset or share price in this corporate restructuring process."

Picketline at Port Botany over Hutchison sackings

A picket line was set up at Port Botany in Sydney after nearly 100 workers were sacked by email.

Last night Hutchison Ports Australia used email to inform the 97 employees their positions had been terminated with no opportunities for redeployment.

40 of those workers are employed at the Port of Brisbane, and 57 are employed at Port Botany.

Employees were told that their final day of work was Friday August 14, but they were not required to attend from August 6 onwards, according to the Daily Telegraph.

I realise that this is a lot of information to take in,” the email read.

“Accordingly you are will not be required to attend work effective immediately.

“We will of course pay you your normal salary to your last date of employment.”

The email also said employees personal effects would be couriered to them.

Hutchison’s gates were blocked by security guards, and ABC reported an altercation started after a security guard told a worker he could not enter to retrieve his possessions.

Police have intervened to keep picketers and security guards away from each other, and border security have also joined to control the situation.

Some 200 employees have picketed Port Botany in support of the terminated workers.

Hutchison blamed the redundancies on several issues, including downsizing of its offerings to Australian customers.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said it “utterly rejects” claims the company had to reduce its operations due to a lack of competitiveness .

“We believe this is a strategy to increase automation as there are no logical reasons why the company would otherwise give away profitable contracts as they have done recently,” a spokesman for the MUA said.

“The union is seeking a fair and objective process where all labour data and modelling are put on the table to determine the true nature and scope of the problem.”

MUA NSW assistant branch secretary Paul Garrett said the redundancies were related to moves towards automation.

"It's clear that the company's got a move to automate and this is just one of the steps along the way to automating but there shouldn't be any automation without negotiation and they certainly should enter into meaningful discussion with the workers and their union, not just sack them at midnight," he said.

Sacked cranage team leader Craig Hancock said the company had threatened to close down without notice.

"Bottom line is we bent over backwards, we tried our hardest we're a really good workforce…but they're trying to pick on us all the time," he said.

"They've got nastier and nastier…we don't really know why we've been sacked.

"They started threatening us a while ago about 'we'll close down whenever we like', or 'we'll make you redundant for no reason'… they kept saying stuff like that but we kept battling away.”

LMH has approached Hutchison Ports for comment.

Image: ABC

Toll workers vote in favour of strike action

More than 8000 workers from Australia’s largest logistics company Toll Group could go on strike for 72 hours after voting in favour of protected industrial action.

Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) national secretary Tony Sheldon said that 85% of the votes cast supported taking protected action.

The TWU first filed documents with the Fair Work Commission in July, asking them to approve a ballot on all forms of industrial action.

Workers at over 400 yards were balloted by the Australian Electoral Commission on the type of action they wished to take, including a strike of up to 72 hours.

The TWU wants confirmation that employees of companies contracted by Toll are paid fair wages.

It is also asking Toll to guarantee it won't create separate businesses with lower pay rates and differing safety standards.

Sheldon claims the company has not been open in its negotiations.

“It’s always been our intention to reach an agreement with the company that our members can vote on, but after more than 100 hours of negotiations we still remain some distance apart,” Sheldon said.

“TWU members are seeking a fair agreement that recognises their role in the continued success of Toll and ensures that their job security, conditions and safety standards won’t be undermined.”

Sheldon said the union members would now meet to decide the size of any action taken.

“Following on from this decision, our member led-negotiation team will now meet to decide on the appropriate scope and size of industrial action in the event that the deadlock is not broken.

A spokesman for Toll has previously said the company was "extremely disappointed" the union had taken the action.

"We are extremely disappointed the union has taken this action, especially considering negotiations between Toll and the union are continuing,” he said.

"Implementing union-imposed conditions that make Toll uncompetitive in the current economic environment would be the biggest threat to job security.”

A Toll employee told LMH  today that " the majority of Toll’s employees believe the current offer Toll has on the table is fair and reasonable, and want a sensible agreement finalised as soon as possible."

Image: smh.com

Toll workers prepare to vote on strike action

More than 8000 workers from Australia’s largest logistics company Toll Group could go on strike for 72 hours after the Transport Workers Union won the right to vote on industrial action.

The TWU filed documents with the Fair Work Commission on Friday asking them to approve a ballot on all forms of industrial action. The commission granted permission for the vote yesterday.

Workers at over 400 yards will be balloted by the Australian Electoral Commission on the type o faction they wish to take, including a strike of up to 72 hours, News.com reported.

The TWU wants confirmation that employees of companies contracted by Toll are paid fair wages.

It is also asking Toll to guarantee it won't create separate businesses with lower pay rates and differing safety standards.

"Fighting for the rights and conditions of workers at Toll is part of our fight to protect the rights and conditions of every transport worker in the country," said TWU Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine.

"Our members are prepared for this next step in this fight."

TWU negotiation team member, Rick Millich, said Toll had left the union with no option.

"It's effectively pushing us for a permission slip to contract out our jobs to unsafe, substandard operations," Millich said.

"We're ready to fight to secure Toll jobs and for our families."

A spokesman for Toll said the company was "extremely disappointed" the union had taken the action.

"We are extremely disappointed the union has taken this action, especially considering negotiations between Toll and the union are continuing,” he said.

"Implementing union-imposed conditions that make Toll uncompetitive in the current economic environment would be the biggest threat to job security.”

Votes will be taken over the next month and industrial action could begin after it is endorsed.

Cabbies go on hunger strike as fare system dispute continues

Some taxi drivers have started a hunger strike demanding the ‘short-fare’ system is re-established at Melbourne Airport.

Cabbies are angry at Melbourne Airport’s scratching of a "short-fare queue" for drivers returning from taking passengers on short trips. The drivers were previously allowed to skip the taxi’s holding yard and go directly to the taxi rank at terminals.

One driver said he recently waited in a taxi queue for two hours to take his passengers to the Holiday Inn at the airport and the fare only came to $4.80.

He said the short-term queue would have allowed him to return to the airport and jump the longer queue, but he was sent to the back of the line.

Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff says less than two per cent of all pick-ups are classified as short fares, but more than 12 per cent of drivers claimed they had been on a short trip, Yahoo news reported.

Airport management is planning to implement a licence plate recognition system in September to ensure the queue is not being jumped.

Nazar Yousif has been a taxi driver in Melbourne for 12 years and is one of five drivers who have begun an indefinite hunger strike.

"We are hunger striking today, trying to put more pressure (on)," he said.

"This is starting to become very ugly and showing the feeling of big corporate behaviour (Melbourne Airport) towards taxi drivers."

Yousif says it is not viable for drivers to wait hours for a small fare of $10 or $15.

"You wait there, not only waiting, your car is running. That's a cost for us," he said.

The hunger strike comes after drivers again blockaded the airport yesterday.

Taxi Driver Forum spokesman Ali Abou-eid said had warned Melbourne Airport in April about ending its short-fare queue system.

Image: heraldsun.com.au

Newcastle port workers to strike again as dispute continues

The long running industrial dispute at the Port of Newcastle is far from over, with unions announcing plans strike for 12 hours over three days this weekend.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Daniel Wallace said the dispute over new enterprise bargaining agreements had not been resolved.

He said Port Waratah Coal Services had been notified that strike action would take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 11pm to 3am, Newcastle Herald reported.

The new round of action follows a two-day strike held at the port last week.

The dispute between workers and PWCS has been running for 10 months.

Maritime Union of Australia branch secretary Mick Forbes said PWCS wants to change enterprise bargaining clauses related to dispute settlement and contracting.

Forbes described the proposed changes as “union busting”.

The MUA claim anti-union proposals in the new agreements seek to undermine the safety and health of workers and tear up longstanding settlement procedures around contract issues.

An MUA spokesperson told LMH the main issues have to do with settlement procedure of contract issues, what matters can be arbitrated and a concern over the use of contractors.

The spokesperson said another meeting will be held with PWCS at 1.00pm today.

PWCS told LMH it was hopeful a resolution would be reached.

“There is nothing that PWCS is proposing or seeking to negotiate in the new agreement that does not respect the rights of employees to belong to a union, or to be represented collectively,” he said.

The spokesman said contingency plans are in place to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.

Two day strikes for Newcastle coal terminal

The bitter industrial dispute at the Port of Newcastle has deepened as workers at Port Waratah Coal Services go on strike for two days.

Union members working at Port Waratah Coal Services first voted to take industrial action in early May after a meeting between the unions and PWCS failed to resolve a ten month dispute over new enterprise agreements.

More than 200 Port Waratah Coal Services workers voted to take action.

The Maritime Union of Australia first warned that it would take industrial action in the form of indefinite stoppage of overtime and a ban on shift changeovers on Sunday.

However action quickly escalated to extended work stoppages of 12 and 24 hour strikes.

MUA Australia branch secretary Mick Forbes said PWCS wants to change enterprise bargaining clauses related to dispute settlement and contracting.

Forbes described the proposed changes as “union busting”.

The MUA claim anti-union proposals in the new agreements seek to undermine the safety and health of workers and tear up longstanding settlement procedures around contract issues.

The new round of strike action will start today and tomorrow, the 7th and 8th of June, starting at 8pm on both days and stretch through the night shift until 4am.

MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams said the decision by workers to take action shows the strength of the workforce.

“PWCS continues to pursue an anti-union, anti worker approach to these negotiations in the face of a wall of unity and solidarity,” Williams said.

“The company needs to finally understand that these workers will not break.”

“It’s time the company came back to the table and ceased its campaign to wind back the rights of its employees.”

Williams added that while the unions and workers were willing to take strike action, they continue to seek a negotiated agreement.

PWCS told Australian Mining the company had been open in its negotiations.

“PWCS has been negotiating in good faith since July last year,” the spokesperson said.

“There is nothing that PWCS is proposing or seeking to negotiate in the new agreement that does not respect the rights of employees to belong to a union, or to be represented collectively.”

The spokesman said contingency plans are in place to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.

Image: secretaryofinnovation.com

Coal terminal workers walk off the job

 

More than 200 workers at Port Waratah Coal Services walked off the job this morning as part of an eight hour strike as a long running dispute over new enterprise agreements continue.

The Maritime Union of Australia said the stop-work action would take place from 6:30am to 2:30pm.

Today’s action follows a four hour stoppage earlier this month.

The union has also announced plans to take part in 24-hour strikes on May 29 if an agreement cannot be reached.

Maritime Union of Australia branch secretary Mick Forbes said PWCS wants to change enterprise bargaining clauses related to dispute settlement and contracting

Forbes described the proposed changes as “union busting”.

The MUA claim anti-union proposals in the new agreements seek to undermine the safety and health of workers and tear up longstanding settlement procedures around contract issues.

“Unfortunately, despite our continued commitment to reach an agreement, we don’t think the company is getting the message,” MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said.

“So we are stepping up our campaign of legally protected action whilst continuing every effort to reach a deal.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesman Daniel Wallace is hopeful meetings over the next week with management will resolve the dispute, ABC reported.

"We've been in negotiations for the past eight months," he said.

"We've had about 50 meetings with management .

"We managed to resolve some issues yesterday but the main sticking points are still there.

"Hopeful over the next week we may be able to resolve the dispute."

PWCS told LMH the company had been open in its negotiations.

“PWCS has been negotiating in good faith since July last year,” the spokesperson said.

“There is nothing that PWCS is proposing or seeking to negotiate in the new agreement that does not respect the rights of employees to belong to a union, or to be represented collectively.”

The spokesman said contingency plans are in place should the strikes go ahead to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.

 

24-hour strikes for Newcastle coal terminal

ndustrial action is set to continue at Port Waratah Coal Services in Newcastle after workers voted for a two-week campaign which could include 24-hour work stoppages.

Two hundred workers at the coal terminal attended a four-hour stop work meeting yesterday and unanimously endorsed further action over the next two weeks.

The action will include future 12 and 24-hour strikes, bans on overtime and working outside of classifications.

Maritime Union of Australia branch secretary Mick Forbes said PWCS wants to change enterprise bargaining clauses related to dispute settlement and contracting

Forbes described the proposed changes as “union busting”.

The MUA claim anti-union proposals in the new agreements seek to undermine the safety and health of workers and tear up longstanding settlement procedures around contract issues.

“The message we received from the members is one of great disappointment about the company’s continued belligerence and attacks on their job security,” said Glen Williams, MUA’s Newcastle branch secretary.

Disputes over the new enterprise agreements have been ongoing for 10 months.

Last week a spokesman for PWCS told Australian Mining the company had been open in its negotiations.

“PWCS has been negotiating in good faith since July last year,” the spokesperson said.

“There is nothing that PWCS is proposing or seeking to negotiate in the new agreement that does not respect the rights of employees to belong to a union, or to be represented collectively.”

The spokesman said contingency plans are in place should the strikes go ahead to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.

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