A last minute agreement between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Esperance Port has seen industrial action averted and resulted in a new four-year Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for 80 stevedores and maintenance workers at the Port.
The four-year agreement will see workers receive a pay increase of 4.25 per cent per annum. This includes a CPI increase of 3 per cent and a further 1.25 per cent increase, which is offset by rises in productivity.
MUA Organiser Jeff Cassar said the union was pleased with the outcome.
“Industrial action is always a last resort for the MUA. We are pleased to have reached agreement before strike action impacted on Port users and the local community,” he said.
The agreement was struck on Thursday between employee representatives and Port negotiators, in a conference with Fair Work Commissioner Danny Cloghan.
The agreement also includes a “Transmission of Business” job security clause that will protect workers and their entitlements, in the event the State Government privatises the Port.
“The MUA has negotiated long and hard to ensure Esperance Port workers receive a fair pay rise and can be secure in their jobs,” said Mr Cassar.
“With the Barnett Government planning to sell Port infrastructure in Fremantle and the Pilbara to pay off its debt, it was really important to provide job security for our members.”
MUA Secretary Christy Cain said while the union opposed the privatisation of Port infrastructure, the State Government seemed determined in its privatisation push, meaning it was vital to protect workers.
“We all know Colin Barnett has created a massive debt problem, but selling assets that currently generate revenue for the state is a terrible legacy to leave to future generations,” he said.
“We also have serious concerns about the more immediate impact of these sales on the public and on the state.
“Once a Port is privatised, the government loses control of the charges being imposed by the Port, and there is plenty of evidence around Australia that shows charges often go up.
“That will mean higher prices for consumers and less job creation and growth in export industries.”
Mr Cain also raised safety concerns in relation to privatised Ports.
‘While we have worked successfully with both government and private sector Port operators, we have found private operators are far more likely to cut corners on safety in an effort to squeeze great profits for shareholders.”