The AMOU and MUA’s current program of short, disruptive 24 hour strikes suspending pilot vessel operations to most cargo ships at Port Jackson and Port Botany is pushing up shipping costs, and will likely lead to higher prices for Christmas. It is also taking money out of the pockets of their own union workers who won’t see their pay rises until the new EBA is in place.
And this is not about wages or job security, it’s a blatant power play by the unions to take over management decisions.
Port Authority New South Wales wants to modernise their firefighting capability. They have already guaranteed that there will be no job losses and offered what most see as reasonable pay increases across the new EBA period, but the unions are striking anyway. Why? Because the unions want to decide on the future structure of the Port Authority’s vessel fleet. They want to force the Port Authority to retain outdated and unnecessary firefighting vessels and not modernise to safer, more effective and more flexible vessel designs.
So, while the MUA plays King Canute, and tries to hold back the tide of progress, the ports of Sydney and Botany are being disrupted and ordinary Australians will pay the price. Australia’s reputation as a maritime trading nation is also taking another hit.
Today’s strike is the sixth in the past eight weeks.
Shipping lines face direct charter costs of $15,000 per day and almost the same again for the knock-on effects at subsequent ports. This will inevitably force up shipping rates. Stevedores are losing throughput, putting pressure on their already slim margins and their casual staff are losing wages.
“This is a case of Australia’s maritime unions flexing their muscles and everybody loses,” Shipping Australia’s chief executive, Rod Nairn said. “Is it any wonder that no one wants to have an Australian flagged ship and there is a rush to automate every possible job on the waterfront.
“These union actions are accelerating their own demise. Australian ports just can’t go on being held to ransom by a handful of employees. It’s time that our capital city ports introduced a capability to transfer pilots by helicopter winching so that Australia’s maritime trade can’t be held to ransom by a handful of maritime union powerbrokers.”
For additional information contact Rod Nairn, chief executive officer on 0449 902 457.
Shipping Australia is a peak national shipping association comprising 35 member shipping lines and shipping agents that would be involved with over 70 per cent of Australia’s container and car trade, over 60 per cent of our break bulk and bulk trades, and significant cruise ship and tug operations.