Maritime Union Lodges Injunction Over Patrick's Move To Automate Port Botany

The Maritime Union of Australia will today seek an injunction in the Federal Court over the failure of Patrick Stevedores to consult with the Union and their employees regarding the proposed automation of the Port Botany cargo terminal.

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The Union is seeking an injunction preventing Patrick from taking any further steps to implement the proposed automation prior to consulting with the Union in accordance with the EBA struck in April.

The MUA believes Patrick’s management acted in breach of the consultation clause of the EBA struck in April, when it announced on September 3 the signing of a contract with Cargotec Corporation in Finland to deliver 44 Autostrads by the end of 2013.

The MUA has consistently criticised Asciano’s announcement in mid July that its subsidiary Patrick Stevedores would sack more than half of its Port Botany workforce and replace them with automated technology.

The union was extremely disappointed that Patrick’s failed to declare its plans for automation during 20 tough months of negotiations for a new EBA.

Subsequently, on September 3, Patrick’s was at it again by revealing it had signed a contract with Cargotec for the purchase of 44 Autostrads– once again without consultation.

“The company says it will consult then does the opposite and we’re going to pull them up on this,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“We’re looking for a measure of respect, decency and maturity from Patrick’s management to engage in a dialogue with its workforce, rather than this single-mindedness which borders on arrogance.”

MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said the decision by Patrick’s management to push ahead with the purchase of equipment without consultation was another kick in the guts to the Patrick’s workforce.

"Patrick Stevedores’ decision demonstrates its poor judgment, lack of good faith and lack of commitment to any reasonable consultation with their workforce,” Mr Doleman said.

“Ever since the new EBA was signed, Patrick’s has treated its workforce with contempt – yet it is the workers who have positively contributed to the company for many more years than the current fly-by night managers."

Mr Crumlin, who is also President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), will hold a high level meeting on September 12 in Washington with prominent union leaders on the topic of automation.

Mr Crumlin will meet with International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) President Harold Daggett, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) President Bob McEllrath, and ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton in Washington on September 12.

American-headquartered companies manage 46 per cent of Asciano shares; the top three are:

o   JP Morgan Chase (19% consolidated holdings)

o   Citibank (13% consolidated holdings)

o   Blackrock Investment (10% consolidated holdings)

A total of 8.15 per cent of shares are listed as managed directly from the USA and the rest are listed with the location as Australia, but are recognisably American companies.