MUA rejects claims it's holding WA to ransom

The Maritime Union of Australia in WA has rejected claims it’s holding the state to ransom in its EBA negotiations with tugboat company Teekay.

The MUA represents deckhands who work for Teekay, which is contracted by BHP Billiton to run tugboat operations in Port Hedland.

The MUA has been granted a ballot of members by the Fair Work Commission.

“The MUA has worked constructively over many years to grow Western Australia’s iron ore industry, and we will continue to do so,” said MUA State Secretary Christy Cain.

“We understand that a port as important as Port Hedland needs Australia’s best tug boat operators, and we need to provide the right wages and conditions to attract these workers to a regional location.

“The negotiations with Teekay are progressing, but there are still a number of sticking points which we are trying to work through in good faith.”

Mr Cain said the two parties had not yet reached agreement on a relativity claim.

“The award standard is for deckhands to be paid 70% of a Master’s rate. Currently, Teekay workers are well below this and we are seeking to remedy this.”

Mr Cain said the Union is also seeking to secure annual leave for deckhands.

“Our members work a four on four off roster, however they do not currently get any annual leave.

“Other workers in the industry get 6 weeks annual leave, however we are only pursuing 4 weeks leave for our members.

“Our door is always open to company management and our very strong preference would be to reach a negotiated outcome,” Mr Cain concluded.

The result of the protected industrial action ballot is expected on the 12th of May.