MUA Celebrates Big Win for Waterside Workers’ Rights

The Maritime Union of Australia today applauded a Fair Work Commission ruling, backing the MUA’s right to represent waterside workers at Darwin Harbour.

The FWC found the union is entitled to represent non-management waterside workers employed by JKC Australia - the construction contractor for the Darwin Harbour facilities, being built as part of INPEX’s major Ichthys LNG project.

The dispute between the MUA and JKC Australia erupted when MUA NT branch secretary Thomas Mayor was refused entry to the Hydro Deck at the Module Offload Facility. 

But Fair Work Commissioner Danny Cloghan today ruled MUA representatives had the right to enter the site. 

“This is a great win for the MUA and for waterside workers who have a right to be represented by a union,” Mr Mayor said. 

“It was never in doubt that workers on this project are eligible to be MUA members. 

“It was blatantly obvious these workers were performing stevedoring duties, like loading and unloading vessels.

“It’s shameful so much money - tens of thousands of dollars - and so much time was wasted arguing the indefensible. 

JKC Australia is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for Darwin Harbour’s on-shore construction and processing plant.

The FWC found the union was entitled to represent workers on the Hydro Deck at the INPEX Project’s module offloading facility.

The MUA argued there were four separate bases that demonstrated its right to cover the workers, despite the union not being a party to the work agreement which covers them.

Commissioner Cloghan determined the workers were “waterside workers” and thus eligible to be MUA members.

He said case law had established that the “function of loading and unloading ships lies at the heart of the occupation of a waterside worker.”

The predominant activities of such workers “are on, or in the vicinity of, a wharf and constitute part of the overall stevedoring operations of loading and unloading ships.”

Commissioner Cloghan said the evidence showed the employees were almost continuously required to ensure the Hydro Deck is “ready and fit for purpose when offloading occurs.”