Qube’s Agreement Termination must be Defeated

Viterra have just had an AWU Grain terminal agreement in Port Lincoln terminated. The AWU were criticised for boycotting the FWC hearing which ripped away their hard won conditions of work. One can hardly blame them.

We have seen numerous examples of this corrupt, yet legal, practice of terminating EBAs and are actively involved with the CFMEU Mining division in supporting the struggle of the Port Kembla Coal Terminal workers in a dispute centring on termination of their EBA. It is becoming a plague and has a devastating effect on workers and their families. To this effect we will be seeking closer cooperation of the broader union movement around the question of agreement terminations.

Workers didn’t want enterprise employment but were forced there and our hard won awards were smashed and destroyed in the background. Now the bosses want us back on awards because they cut costs in such a huge way that bosses can now live with the potential industry wide framework they once so despised.

I have attached a leaflet and it will be attached to the NOR for the March monthly meetings as well. It demonstrates the extreme industrial and political losses that are incurred when one of our agreements is terminated. It can amount to a 59% wage cut. Even worse the role of the union is virtually eradicated and even clauses like dispute resolution exclude the union entirely. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that 25 years of bargaining history is eradicated in a single decision.

The ball is in Qube’s court comrades.

We are fighting in this EBA for a roster removed in bad times and not returned in good times. We’re fighting against excessive consecutive 12 hour shifts and fatigue. Were fighting for volunteers to go first to Geelong and for wages comparative to Qube’s other operations. These are not big issues. They are fixable and not even cost claims – wages excepted but clearly when the national agreement was agreed Qube budgeted the wages. We will continue to pursue these legitimate claims.

If Qube pulls the trigger we all need to be completely focused on carrying out this struggle to the end and it may, unfortunately, be a very long one. This means we will need commitments to the ongoing struggle in a union wide manner of which can be discussed at National Council. 

Once the bosses know we will roll over to termination of our whole history of struggle we will see this plague extend to every port in the country. We must defeat Qube’s attack on their general stevedoring wharfies in Melbourne or it won’t stop there. Their fight truly is everyone’s fight.

See our flyer here.

In solidarity,

Warren Smith

Assistant National Secretary

Maritime Union of Australia