Last year the State Government announced they would invite bids from stevedore companies to become the Port of Melbourne's third operator as part of the $1.6 billion Port Capacity Project. Four companies have subsequently placed a bid.
MUA Victorian Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken said port workers were invested in the development, not only because it could have an impact on the local maritime industry and therefore their jobs, but also because a reasonable percentage of the workforce lived in the local vicinity of the project.
“The government opened up the process to stakeholders, but for some reason they thought the main union that represents the bulk of the workforce shouldn't be involved in that process,” Mr Bracken said.
“Now the government won't even consult with the union, or the workers, on where the project is at.
“I am not opposed to the development, in fact a third operator will mean more opportunities for our members, but when we are not being kept up-to-date on the progress of the project I become suspicious.”
The MUA has written to Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and Minister for Ports David Hodgett and has not received a response to date.
Last month Shadow Minister for Ports, Freight and Logistics Natalie Hutchins raised the issue in parliament, but to date the Liberal-led Government is yet to respond.
“While Labor supports the current expansion of Webb Dock, in fact it initiated the planning of the $1.6 billion project while in government, we on this side of the house are concerned about the lack of consultation and the conflicting information being provided to workers currently located at Webb Dock,” Ms Hutchins said in the Legislative Assembly.
“(The workers) have expressed to me how worried and concerned they are about how they will be affected during the construction process.
“They believe that losing a berthing spot at Webb Dock will have an adverse effect on the amount of general stevedoring that can be done at the Port of Melbourne, and they are very concerned about the job losses that might result from that.”