TEEKAY Members Vote To Take Protected Industrial Action

Maritime Union of Australia members employed by tugboat operator Teekay Shipping have voted to take protected industrial action if EBA negotiations with the company do not reach a resolution.

The MUA represents deckhands who work for Teekay, which is contracted by BHP Billiton to run tugboat operations in Port Hedland.

"The MUA has been negotiating with Teekay for 12 months and while some progress has been made, there are still a number of sticking points which we are trying to work through,” said MUA Assistant WA Secretary Will Tracey.

“Industrial action is always a last resort and we still hope that we can come to an agreement without having to take the action which has been sanctioned by the Fair Work Commission.”

Mr Tracey said the main issue the parties had not yet reached agreement on was annual leave.

“Other workers in the industry who are on an even time roster currently get 6 weeks annual leave, while our members get none,” he said. “We are pursuing a claim of 4 weeks leave a year. We think this is very reasonable, given our members work 12 hours a day for 28 days straight in very tough conditions.”

Mr Tracey said the other main issue that had yet to be resolved was a relativity claim.

“Deckhands at ports across the country are currently paid 70% of a Master’s rate. At Port Hedland, the gap is significantly wider and we are seeking to remedy this,” he said. Mr Tracey said the two parties were also still trying to reach agreement on a pay rise for members.

“We understand that Port Hedland is very important to the Australian economy and so we want to ensure that the best tug boat workers can be attracted to work at such a remote location,” he said. “The best way to do this is to ensure the right wages and conditions are put in place.”

Mr Tracey said the union had agreed to a number of tradeoffs to secure its claims, including no pay rise in the first year of the agreement, forfeiting payments for travel days and other productivity offsets relating to maintenance.

Teekay workers have voted on a range of industrial action, lasting between 24 hours and 7 days.

“100 per cent of workers voted to take action for 24 hours, 98% voted to take 48 and 98% voted to take 7 days,” said Mr Tracey. “However, it has not yet been decided whether industrial action will be taken or which option will be exercised.”

Under Industrial Relations laws, the workers have 30 days in which to take the protected action and the MUA must give Teekay 3 clear days notice of any action. Negotiations with the company are continuing and the two parties will appear before the Fair Work Commission again on 20 of May in Sydney.