Press Release: Qube Melbourne Wharfies Walk Off The Job As Company Seeks to Terminate Agreement

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says its wharfies at Qube’s Melbourne Bulk & General operation have gone on strike for 48 hours this weekend after the company’s attempt to terminate their EBA and revert to the award, which would mean a pay cut of at least 40 per cent.

Qube management has continually provoked workers in Melbourne by removing long-established rosters and pushing excessive working hours, in contrast to other Australian ports where the company has reached agreement with its workforce.


“Why should Qube Melbourne not get the same wages as other ports when the company has inflamed the workplace with unjust sackings, excessive hours, discipline and removal of the roster,” MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said.


“After deliberately inflaming tensions in the workplace and refusing to negotiate in good faith, management have now decided to try to cut workers’ take home pay by 40 per cent by reverting to the award.


“The company is running rampant over the workforce with targeted sackings and the creation of work patterns that directly result in unsafe levels of fatigue.


“The company removed the roster in early 2015, saying it would revert when trading conditions improved but some three years later volumes have increased but the roster has not been reinstated.


“The company has identified fatigue as a major priority when it comes to occupational health and safety yet workers at Qube in Melbourne are working longer hours including several consecutive 12 hour shifts. This is the core of the problem.”


The ACTU and unions have broadly condemned the emerging corporate tactic of applying to terminate Enterprise Bargaining Agreements in order to cut workers’ pay and conditions.


This is a sneaky backdoor tactic, whereby companies apply to the FWC to terminate an existing agreement on the grounds it has negotiated in good faith when they had no intention of reaching agreement in the first place.


This is then used to severely undercut decades worth of enterprise negotiations.


“The MUA agrees 100 per cent with the ACTU in saying that it’s time to change the rules,” Smith said.


“Wage growth is stagnant while CEO pay packets and corporate profits are at record levels.


“All trade unionists know that the only way working people get pay rises when they have the power to negotiate them."


“Right now corporations like Qube have too much power and working people have too little.


“We need to change the rules, including the right to strike, so that there is a fair power balance between working people and big business.”


Media Contact: Darrin Barnett 0428 119 703