MUA seeks application for protected industrial action in Esperance

The Maritime Union of Australia has applied to the Fair Work Commission for permission to seek a ballot of members on industrial action at Esperance Port.

EBA negotiations with Esperance Port Sea and Land (EPSL) have been going on for 9 months, but the two parties have been unable to reach an agreement.

The current EBA expired on the 31st of December 2013.

MUA Organiser Jeff Cassar said there were two main sticking points in the negotiations.

“The MUA has asked for a 4% annual wage increase and a 2% income protection claim to cover workers when they are injured outside of work to ensure they can continue to meet their living costs if they’re unable to work,” said Mr Cassar.

EPSL is claiming this will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the MUA disputes this.

“The workforce has agreed to the Port Authority’s requested productivity gains valued by the Port at 2.93%. CPI for 2013 was 3%. That’s a gain to the Port of 5.93% and we’re seeking claims to the value of 6%.

“The Port Authority is ideologically opposed to the concept of improved income protection for its employees; not the cost,” said Mr Cassar.

The MUA has about 80 workers at Esperance who carry out jobs such as stevedoring and port maintenance.

“With port amalgamations now looming, this is the time to ensure local jobs are protected by a new EBA,” said Mr Cassar.

“The claims on the table are not in any way excessive and EPSL has simply not been bargaining in good faith.

“Industrial action is always a last resort, but we do want our members to have the right to take it if we keep being stonewalled by the Port.”

The Fair Work Commission will hear the application for the Protected Action Ballot next Tuesday 27th May.