Protests by workers, family and broader community members at Station Pier in Port Melbourne were a result of serious concerns about safety, according to the Maritime Union of Australia.
Local management from QUBE, formerly known as P&O Automotive and General Stevedoring (POAGS), sacked four men on June 7, although three of them have since been returned to the company's payroll. Another two workers have also been sacked this year.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin emphasised that no industrial action had been taken by the union and high-level discussions are underway with QUBE to bring the matter to resolution.
“QUBE needs to recognise that its workers are part of a community outside of work,” he said.
“It appears that the community acted because of concerns that had been simmering for several weeks after management sacked six workers, four of whom asked for additional training for work on a higher role, due to the safety concerns associated with the work.”
MUA Victoria Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken said: “This is a dangerous industry, where Victorian stevedores are 21 times more likely to die at work than an average Australian worker.
“A young stevedore, 24-years-old, was crushed on the Spirit of Tasmania in 2010, losing his spleen, and parts of his liver, bowel and lungs.
“He has not worked since.”
The Government's own safety regulator, Worksafe Victoria, reasserted that workers should have access to appropriate safety training before being required to step up into this higher role.