MUA Ready to Negotiate While Hutchison Ports Goes to War

The Maritime Union of Australia will unleash every tool available – legal, political and industrial – to stop Hutchison Ports Australia unfairly sacking almost half of its waterfront workforce.

HPA plans to cut 97 out of 224 jobs – more than 40% of its workforce - at Port Botany and Brisbane.

The MUA is greatly concerned that HPA management is walking around with a “hatchet list” – picking off delegates and activists in a bid to bust union influence.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said workers were being ranked like animals at a fair.

The strategy, dubbed “Phoenix Rising,” by the company, is a tool to bring in automation without negotiation, according to Mr Smith.

“It’s basically sneaking automated equipment in under the noses of the MUA, so there is no requirement to have negotiated manning levels or coverage,” he said.

“All we want is HPA to meet and negotiate an outcome but if they reject that position we are going to fight back using every tool we have – legal, political, industrial and community protest – to get justice for these workers.

“We will make sure this company adheres to its moral obligations and commitments given to the MUA when it started, to operate in a cooperative and collaborative manner.”

The MUA is prepared to accept job cuts if the company could justify them.

HPA needs to put the facts on the table and talk through solutions in a non-litigious environment.

“If they’re genuine, we are prepared to come back with a range of creative solutions to get through whatever difficult times the company is confronting,” Mr Smith said.

Union members at Hutchison will stop work for four hours on Thursday and Monday. Their enterprise agreement does not expire until February.