The National Secretary wrote the following letter to The Australian in response to criticism of the MUA offshore wage claims.
In "Former Labor Minister warns of wages blowout" (3/2) Whitlam Government Minister Peter Walsh warns of a wage breakout like the one in 1974 if productivity offsets don't to go hand in hand with wage increases and warns of the wages breakout back in 1974. But Peter forgets there has been a revolution in how productivity is delivered since.
The idea of productivity trade-offs became irrelevant when the industry began looking at performance as a team- based, whole of enterprise approach. We've worked hard in the hydrocarbon and other industries with employers to link performance and productivity as a day-by-day proposition, not as a one-off chess game every 3 to 4 years.
Productivity in the offshore industry is linked to lost time injury, safe working practice, competency building and efficient performance that results in the job being done safely, on time or before time and in the best interests of both the business and the workers. This is essentially in an industry where workers work a minimum of 12 hours a day and up to 18 hours, 7 days a week over a 5 week period of intensive activity in a safety critical industry. It's about better labour use with the same crew numbers servicing much more sophisticated ships - some three times bigger.
For the record, none of the offshore employers proposed any specific productivity improvements at the beginning of or during the current bargaining round, so the Maritime Union has therefore not rejected any proposals for productivity improvement.
As to Melbourne barrister Stuart Wood joining the wage blowout chorus, it should be remembered that Wood was an adversary of the MUA during the Patricks dispute, where the High Court found probable conspiracy against the Union.