The Maritime Union of Australia has condemned Patrick Stevedores' action to stand down workers at its container terminals in Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle.
MUA workers showed up for work at 6am in Sydney this morning, ready to work, only to find that Patrick had stood down the workforce.
MUA workers are exercising their right to take limited industrial action by only working within their job description - with no overtime or transfers. This is legally protected industrial action granted by Fair Work Australia.
MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said Patrick has refused to allow workers to undertake their duties, and have stood down the workforce.
"Patrick Stevedores needs to abandon its war on workers and behave in a constructive, co-operative fashion," Mr Doleman said.
"MUA workers are ready to return to work - it is Patrick that is causing chaos. We call on them to allow our workers to get back on the job.
"Instead of working constructively with the union to find a resolution, Patrick has instead resorted to hysterical spin to cover the fact they are not bargaining in good faith."
Today's action stands in stark contrast with a media statement issued by Patrick on 20 May stating: "The Company is genuinely seeking an outcome by continuing to negotiate with the MUA."
"With what we now know, the company's statement doesn't add up. While the MUA genuinely entered these negotiations with a spirit of goodwill and co-operation, Patrick was clearly plotting industrial mayhem all along," Mr Doleman said.
Patrick has written to the union inviting: "a joint application to Fair Work Australia to terminate the bargaining period and to enter into consent conciliation and arbitration under the terms of the Fair Work Act."
"This is just another PR stunt. Patrick refuse to put arbitration inside the agreement, despite repeated attempts by the MUA. They're desperately clutching at straws as they continue to punish their clients," Mr Doleman said.
"Safety is the critical productivity issue on the Australian waterfront. The stevedoring industry has an appalling safety record in this country and something needs to be done about it."