One Step Forward: Parties Meet at Table in Hutchison Dispute

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has welcomed Hutchison Ports Australia back to the negotiating table following the sacking of 97 wharfies three weeks ago.

The MUA and Hutchison have agreed to a six-week negotiation process to be overseen by the Fair Work Commission.

This defers a Federal Court case which was set to begin next week.

“The MUA welcomes a mature and normal process of consultation and negotiation with Hutchison – that’s what we have been after all along,” Crumlin said.

“It’s pleasing that Hutchison has returned to the negotiating table rather than sacking workers at midnight by text and email and preventing them from clearing out their own lockers.

“We look forward to the fact that if this new attitude is maintained by the company – because it certainly will be by the MUA – then a solution can be found that both deals with the difficult commercial reality the company is facing and repairs the damage that has been done to the company’s relationship with its workers over the past few weeks.”

FWC Deputy President Anna Booth released a statement today, outlining private meetings set down for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week in Sydney.

“The parties have met in conciliation before me on a number of occasions, most recently on Thursday 27 August 2015, in an effort to resolve the dispute between them,” Booth said.

“They have reached an agreement to adjourn the Federal Court proceedings that relate to this dispute and to put their efforts into resolving this dispute through further conciliation before me.

“I believe the parties are committed to reaching an agreement that best meets the interests of Hutchisons Ports, its employees, the Maritime Union of Australia and its members.”

Meanwhile, Hutchison Ports worker Scott Matthewson appeared on the 2UE Drive program yesterday to update listeners on what is happening down at the community assembly at Port Botany.

Presenter Justin Stephens described Hutchison as a “pack of mongrels” for the way they had treated their workers and asked whether Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz had apologised to workers after saying it was ok to be sacked by text.

Matthewson said spirit was still strong down at the line and thanked other unions and the community for their support.

He said sacked workers were still not rostered on and had not yet received their belongings out of lockers.

“We just have to last one more day then the company,” he said.

You can listen to the audio here: