The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) believes a fatal accident could be imminent at the VICT Terminal at Melbourne’s Webb Dock, with four safety-related incidents this week on top of five incidents the week before.
MUA Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey said two workers at the VICT terminal have been hospitalised with workers now fearing more serious accidents following the recent introduction of dramatically increased working hours.
“This workplace is unsafe. The MUA believes Worksafe Victoria must intervene immediately before a worker is killed or seriously injured,” Tracey said.
“Workers are being required to work 12 hour shifts back to back with some required to regularly work 6 to 8 shifts in a row with minimum breaks before being called in again.
“We have many examples of people working over 50 to 60 hours of overtime in the fortnight outside of their rostered normal hours of work.
“Four serious safety incidents this week on top of five incidents the week before has led to escalating concerns about safety at the terminal. Workers are on edge.
“This terminal now has had two weeks in a row with a worker being rushed to hospital following a safety incident.
“Clearly, resolving the safety concerns at this site is beyond the capacity of current management, who appear to be putting increased production and cost cutting before the safety of their own workforce.
“A lack of manning and training continues as workers continue to report exhaustion as management stands over them to stay on the job to meet operational targets.
“The increased hours come after fatigue-related training two weeks ago and many workers are scared to raise issues around fatigue for fear of reprisals after heated exchanges with management in the past few weeks.
VICT CEO Anders Drommestrupp sent an email to employees after the first five incidents:
“all in all, I think it’s gone well, and feel we can say we have got off to a good start … thanks again for all chipping in to make these first 2 weeks successful.”
Mr Tracey said the chief executive is living in fantasy land as workers express their frustration at his unwillingness to acknowledge critical safety issues on site.
“This may have been acceptable at previous terminals Mr Drommestrupp worked at, but it is not acceptable on the Australian waterfront,” Tracey said.