Dubai Ports World Negotiation Tactics Leave No Option Other Than Protected Action

The Maritime Union of Australia will take protected action against terminal operator Dubai Ports World after the company’s ongoing refusal to negotiate in good faith on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

The MUA has been bargaining for more than ten months for a new EBA, with a view to maximising permanency and job security.
The MUA will begin light protected industrial action at DP World terminals in Melbourne, Sydney and Fremantle on Thursday due to the company’s insistence on taking away of penalty rates, increasing hours of work and their failure to adequately re-shape the workforce with the introduction of automation.

This comes on top of DP World’s decision to force redundancies for 12 full time workers at its Fremantle cargo operations removing permanent and stable full time jobs. This will reduce the full time rostered permanents to 40 out of 200 and is set to take effect on 31st December.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said long-held selection processes for promotion and training are being attacked by DP World.

“It’s not much of a Christmas present to be sacked by your employer without any reasonable justification. DP World is trying to take industrial relations back to the dark ages of the dreaded bull system.”

“Add to this the fact that senior managers across the company have flagged their intention to seek arbitration at Fair Work Commission rather than bargain in good faith. We have no choice but to act in the best interests of our members.

“DP World management has been deliberately provocative and hostile throughout the negotiation process. Trust among workers is at an all time low and dissatisfaction with their clients is at an all time high.

“This dispute isn’t about money – it is about hours of work, job security, and automation of the waterfront with no fair redundancy provisions in place when hundreds of workers will get the sack.

“We understand the inevitability of automated technology but that does not mean loyal workers should be randomly thrown on the scrapheap in an exercise of excising delegates and union activists from the workplace while managers steal their jobs. Nor does it mean the workers who are left should not benefit from the massive productivity gains that automation delivers.

“The proposals we have put to the company around automation deal with the manner in which automation is negotiated and introduced. Our main demands around automation are job-saving reductions in hours of work; and job security.

“We are also seeking transparency about automation plans in the future and dignified arrangements for those that will have to exit the industry and fairness in the approach to that process.

“DP World is going to a lot of effort to try to create the perception that they are a constructive and inclusive employer, but the reality is very different.

“For example, the MUA put forward an improved parental leave scheme, which we proposed to pay for by reducing our wages, but DP World refuses to include this in the agreement.”