Beating Up The MUA

The Australian daily finally gives the MUA a short and belated right of reply, More, we would expect, is to come.


PETER Anderson ("Back to the bad old days of the strikebound nation", Commentary, 14/1) misrepresents in a very considered fashion the enterprise bargaining negotiations between a small number of hydrocarbon contractors and the Maritime Union of Australia.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Mines and Metal Association have conducted a campaign to "beat up" this dispute, affecting no more than 500 seafarers, working intermittently, into a national issue in the first week of the new Fair Work Australia Act.

Since early last year the MUA has been negotiating with employers for a new agreement covering seafarers in the hostile and difficult environment of the offshore hydrocarbon industry. We have been negotiating to include allowances paid to other workers in the industry because of the special nature of this workplace. The agreement has not been renewed for nearly four years and enormous increases have been rewarded to other workers in this industry.

Instead of bargaining in good faith AMMA conducted a concerted media campaign to turn a moderate dispute into a major issue requiring the Deputy Prime Minister to intervene. AMMA and ACCI needed a dispute to point to so they could claim the new Act wasn't working and had taken Australia back to the "bad old days".

The real barrier to resolving this dispute is not the MUA or individual employers but ideologically driven employer associations.

Read the MUA letter online and...