POAGS Stevedores Recklessly Compromising Safety And Illawarra Jobs

Management at POAGS Stevedores are taking reckless safety risks on the waterfront through the use of union-busting scab labour at Port Kembla.

Overnight, the company took the dramatic step of helicoptering in scab workers - including companyaccounts and industrial relations managers - into Port Kembla in a cynical attempt to undercut industrial action by locking out 130 MUA stevedores.

The non-union employees were given a scant 20 minute induction before beginning a 12 hourshift on the wharves, endangering both themselves and those around them.

MUA Assistant Secretary, Warren Smith said POAGS' latest gamble with safety reinforced the company's poor record.

"Last year two POAGS employees died at work but rather than address the MUA's concernsabout safety, the company is resorting to 20 minute inductions for scab stevedores," Mr Smith said.

"The MUAwill not back down from its campaign to ensure our members work in safe conditions where their lives and livelihoods are not threatened.

MUA Southern NSW Branch Secretary Garry Keane said safety would not be compromised.

"Rather than bargaining in good faith, POAGS is declaring war on its workforce and in the process, recklessly endangering safety on the waterfront," Mr Keane said.

Mr Keane said the Port Kembla POAGS stevedores are the lowest paid in the country, despite one third of the company's profits coming out of the Illawarra port.

In exchange, their working conditions include aminimum of 12 hours' notice for being called in to work, 21 different starttimes in a 24-hour period and seven different shift lengths.

MUA members employed by POAGS in the Hunter have also weighed into the dispute, expressing solidarity with workers in Port Kembla.

NewcastleBranch Secretary Glen Williams called for equal pay with comrades at Port Kembla.

"We do the same work under the same conditions in the same state and we all deserve the same pay," Mr Williams said.

"The workers in the Illawarra have our 100 per cent support."