MUA Offered To Stop Protected Action Against Patrick If Negotiations Resumed

The Maritime Union of Australia offered to recommend to its members postponing planned protected industrial action against Patrick Stevedores if the company confirmed it would resume negotiations and put an offer to the union for the work force to consider.

The offer to postpone protected action if Patrick confirmed its commitment to place an offer on the table was put to the company over seven days ago (Thursday 20th January). 

Despite the genuine offer to put in place a circuit breaker to operational disruption Patrick refused to engage, which has left the MUA with no option other than to go ahead with planned protected action.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said despite seven months of negotiating and the members culling their claims, Patrick have still not put an offer on the table.

"After much discussion and frustration, our members at Fremantle, Albany applied for a ballot hearing to take protected industrial action," he said.

"In all cases the ballot hearings were successful and members voted in support of taking protected action with 98% support.

"This round of negotiations has been about addressing the issues that are important to our members.

"These include fixing safety on the waterfront, fixing job security, fixing casualisation which is currently running at 60% nationally in Patrick B&G, fixing start times, and fixing the management's bullying, harassment and intimidation that is rife in our workplaces."

Mr Bray noted that the majority of claims the union was seeking to address have no costs associated with them.

"Patrick B&G currently have a Work Choices agreement and we are determined to see off the Howard era agreements that encouraged employers to treat workers with little or no dignity and respect," he said.

"Four ports that have had ballots for protected action conducted have all taken industrial action over the last four weeks and will continue to do so until the company get serious about putting an offer on the table.

"Our claims also seek to address the abysmal safety record on the waterfront and we are justified in taking this stance as three deaths in the last year show."

The action follows the $180,000 fine imposed on Patrick last week in the Victorian Magistrates Court for breaching section 76 of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In the first conviction under the Victorian Act, the court found Patrick guilty of an indictable offence for discriminating against an OHS representative for raising safety issues on the job. 

"This decision has completely vindicated the members' claims that are related to improving the poor OH&S culture within Patrick," Mr Bray said.

"We are hopeful of an agreement, but it will take Patrick to come to the negotiations and present an offer to the members and negotiate in good faith before any further progress is likely to be made."

Workers at Fremantle  B& G commence 5 days protected action at 7am Saturday.  Albany workers are taking up to six days action.