MUA Records Stevedoring Safety Wins on Domestic and International Stage

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is celebrating the release of a National Stevedoring Code of Practice (NSCOP) after a seven-year battle to improve safety standards on the waterfront.

Safe Work Australia released the document on their website with little fanfare, a surprising approach given the years of work that have gone into developing NSCOP.


The MUA had engaged in an intensive lobbying effort over many years, in the face of opposition from well-resourced stevedores, peak bodies such as the Australian Logistics Council and Shipping Australia and their cheerleaders in the Federal Government.


“Today is a day worthy of celebration after a long-running campaign for a National Stevedoring Code of Practice,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.


“Many people have been involved in getting NSCOP to this point, in particular MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith but as Warren has said, safety is won on the job and we must continue to organise to keep winning even better safety laws."


The Code of Practice provides advice on managing risks associated with stevedoring and applies to all workplaces where stevedoring operations are carried out.


Activities covered include the loading and unloading of vessel cargo, stacking and storing on the wharf, as well as receiving and delivery of cargo within a terminal or facility.


“Importantly, codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings and NSCOP will now become the industry standard on hazard and workplace risk,” Mr Crumlin said.


The announcement comes on the back of news that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has adopted a revised Code of Practice that is a significant improvement on the previous document ratified in 2005.


A working group led by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and affiliate unions aimed to strengthen a number of provisions.


These included worker consultation, participation and representation; cargo handling operations; occupational health and safety management systems; PPEs; women working in ports; and tackling violence and harassment.  


The group also also worked to ensure that the provisions on automation, an issue that was initially introduced by the employers, focused on protecting dockers working in semi-automated and automated terminals.


The ITF thanked affiliate unions that attended a recent meeting in Geneva including the MUA, BTB, CPSA, CC.OO, FNV Havens, ILWU, Liman-Is, Unite, and Ver.di.


“This is another great result and unions and their members should be proud of what they have achieved,” said Mr Crumlin, who is also ITF President.


“Workers are gaining some real ground with strong consultation clauses to stop large corporations from acting unilaterally and throwing workers’ lives on the scrap heap.”


Media Contact: Darrin Barnett 0428 119 703