The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is angered by Hutchison Ports Australia’s move to sack nearly 100 workers at their Port Botany and Brisbane terminals via email and text message sent in the dead of night.
Hutchison Ports Australia overnight sacked 97 people out of their total workforce of 224.
There were guards on the gates at the terminals this morning and workers were not even allowed to clear their lockers.
Only weeks before Hutchison put the sword to their workforce, the MUA was given information that the management were planning a clandestine operation called 'Phoenix Rising'. The company denied it.
While the company had flagged job cuts in a memo to staff on July 24, the text messages and emails were out of the blue, particularly considering the company had said workers would be told beforehand.
“As for the timing of any exits, we do not have a concluded view on the individuals and/or the timing, but we would not in these circumstances simply ask people to leave immediately. Before any position is made redundant, we will meet with the affected person.
We will give this person an opportunity to respond.” – the memo says.
Yet from last night’s email:
“…your position will not be retained. There are no redeployment opportunities. The intended last day of your employment will be Friday 14 August 2015. I realise that this is a lot of information to take in. Accordingly you are will (sic) not be required to attend work effective immediately."
Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said this type of corporate behavior is unacceptable.
“The MUA utterly rejects the suggestion that the company is reducing its Australian operations due to a lack of competitiveness,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The union and myself personally have worked closely with senior Hutchison management to ensure productive, flexible, safe and reliable working arrangements to allow the company to enter into a highly competitive market.
“This is the same workforce that underpins the successful operations of Australia’s other stevedoring companies.
“Hutchison should know better than to treat their workforce like this. They are a major global player in container terminals and they know that mutual respect with your workforce delivers the best results,” Mr Crumlin said.
“We believe this is a strategy to further introduce automation without any discussion or consultation.
“There are no logical reasons why the company would otherwise give away profitable contracts as they have done recently, other than an extraordinary act of self harm.
“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.”
Bill Shorten attended the Port Botany picket yesterday:
24 hour protest pickets are being staged at both Brisbane and Sydney.
Photos from the Sydney rally can be viewed here.