MUA To Begin Protected Industrial Action At POAGS

The Maritime Union of Australia will undertake protected action in a number of ports across Australia run by bulk and general operator POAGS this weekend after yet another breakdown in industrial negotiations.

The protected action will commence tomorrow and affect ports in Melbourne, Port Kembla, Fremantle, Port Hedland and Bunbury. Typically, these ports move bulk commodities of such goods as iron ore, copper concentrate, steel and gypsum.

"The MUA has been careful to avoid any impact on consumers in the lead-up to Christmas," MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction. This has been building for years and years after widespread management bullying and harassment in the workplace."

"The current POAGS Agreement expired in the middle of the year. The Company has been dragging its heels when it comes to negotiating in good faith.

"As recently as yesterday afternoon, the MUA met with company management in a bid to avert this industrial action. We're disappointed by the company's poor attitude as both parties had moved their positions in recent times."

The MUA is seeking pay rises of five per cent a year, plus some increases in superannuation.

There are also significant issues around rostering, casuals and grading.

"The MUA has significant safety concerns. Safety policies derived in the boardroom do not equal what happens in the workplace, and management needs to realise this," Mr Smith said.

"There were two workplace deaths at POAGS sites in 2010 and not a lot has changed on the job as a result."

In previous instances of industrial action, POAGS has staffed their ports with management and they have said they will do the same again.

"The MUA condemns the use of scab labor on the waterfront and instead urges POAGS management to come back to the table and negotiate in good faith," Mr Smith said.