The Australian: DP World ‘Wages War on Wharfies’ With Tit-for-Tat Lockout

THE Maritime Union of Australian has escalated strike action against DP World, as the union’s national secretary Paddy Crumlin accused the company of declaring war on its workforce.

In addition to strike action at company terminals in three states from today, the MUA said workers at the Port Botany terminal in Sydney would strike for 12 hours over next Monday and Tuesday.

DP World management ­responded by announcing the Sydney workers would be locked out for a further eight hours over that period, meaning they would not return to work until 6am on Tuesday.

“We have been very clear from the outset of our negotiations with the MUA and elected employee representatives that any protected action would be met with ­employer response action, and this is what we intend to do,’’ the company said.

“This action is occurring at a very busy time and will cause significant schedule disruption leading up to the Christmas period.’’
The company is expected today to apply to the Fair Work Commission to mediate the dispute.

Mr Crumlin blasted the company’s tactics, accusing management of seeking to impose on workers its plans for further automation at its ports, rather than through agreement.

He said the company was also trying to renege on longstanding agreed award conditions, including the payment of penalty rates and a 35-hour week, which was originally negotiated as compensation for the loss of thousands of jobs.

Mr Crumlin said “they have just gone out and declared war on their own workforce, in a massive action over the last four or five days of self-harm’’.

“This is what they are saying to their workforce, ‘Well, if you don’t like it, we don’t care. If you don’t like it, we’ll go down to the commission and force-feed it,’ ” he said.

“I tell you, wharfies are the wrong people to send that sort of message to.’’

He said the company was trying to “give you the offer you can’t refuse — who do they think they are? The Godfather?’’

He accused DP World of reacting to limited industrial action by responding with the “militant employer activity’’ of lockouts.

“What do they think it is? The Rumble in the Jungle? The Thriller in Manila? This is a civilised workforce with a longstanding credibility far beyond any of these managers,’’ he said.

He said the Australian waterfront was going through the “last great step of automation where large numbers of human beings were being replaced by ­machines’’.

“Anyone who understands the industry knows it’s easy to come down and punch us in the face,’’ he said.

“We have copped about three or four of them over the last five or six months and we have just about had a gutful.’’

The union was prepared to sit down with the company’s chief executive, Paul Scurrah, “but ­really this kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable in any country, much less a country with the long history that we’ve got.’’