The Maritime Union of Australia and Hutchison Ports Australia will hold high-level meetings tomorrow following the company’s unpopular decision to sack close to 100 workers by text message and email.
Just before midnight on Thursday August 6, a total of 97 workers from Brisbane and Sydney were sacked by text and email.
The case has since been examined by both the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court of Australia.
Federal Court Judge Darryl Rangiah last Thursday issued a two-week injunction preventing the sacking of the workers amid concerns the company did not consult as required by the enterprise agreement.
The union and the company also appeared before FWC Deputy President Anna Booth last Friday and will report back this Thursday following the high-level discussions.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the union is pleased that company management has agreed to hold formal talks.
“The MUA urges Hutchison management to work with their workforce to try to find a way through current circumstances. We want to find a long term solution which benefits both the company and its workers,” Mr Crumlin said.
“We have worked closely with senior Hutchison management in recent years to ensure productive, flexible, safe and reliable working arrangements which allowed the company to enter into Australia’s highly competitive market.”
The MUA rejects suggestions from Hutchison that the company is reducing its Australian operations due to a lack of competitiveness as they have been subcontracting existing work to other stevedores. This continues despite the Federal Court injunction.
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.
Mr Crumlin in his capacity as International Transport Workers’ Federation President has been speaking to Hutchison’s customers assuring them of the MUA’s determination to conclude a mutually agreed outcome that will secure long-term stability.
“The MUA wants a return to normal operations. Workers have returned in Sydney and Brisbane under difficult circumstances as a gesture of good faith in resolving this dispute,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The immediate concern is that ships contracted to Hutchison continue to be diverted to other stevedores and this needs to be urgently addressed.”
The company is owned by Li Ka-Shing, the 17th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $27 billion.