New Deal Brings Australian Workers Back to the Docks 100 Days After Mass Sackings

Dockers sacked by global network terminal (GNT) operator Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) are set to return to work after an agreement was reached between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and HPA management.

It’s been 103 days since 97 workers were terminated in Brisbane and Sydney, many via text and email. It was strongly felt that the company was using automation plans as a union busting tool.

Now, following several rounds of intense negotiation, an agreement has been made which includes a substantial voluntary redundancy package for workers.

ITF president and national secretary of the MUA Paddy Crumlin led the talks with HPA at the Fair Work Commission. He said the new agreement was testament to a more functional and mature approach to industrial relations than the company’s initial attempts to restructure their operations.

Crumlin said: “Workers are essential to the productivity and good health of any successful enterprise, and have a social and legal right to be treated with respect and decency regardless of commercial cycles. 

“Large multi national companies have a particular responsibility, due to their scale and inherent power, to have special regard to their treatment of their workers, and should meet the highest standards of meeting those moral responsibilities."

Crumlin thanked members of the ITF family and also IDC (International Dockworker Council) unions for their demonstrations of solidarity for the sacked workers over the past three months. A global campaign has seen action from hundreds of thousands of transport workers worldwide.