Is Automation A Productivity Benefit For DP World?

Published: 6 Jun 2014

Basically the company has outright rejected all of the MUA claims. The company mantra is that the MUA members must offset any cost or DP World will not accept any cost claims.

The MUA has made an in depth analysis of our own claims. While we recognise there are cost claims the significant nature of our claims are based upon HR policy and practice. Around 60% of the MUA’s claims are based on the (mis) application of HR policies.

The abuse of workers on sick leave, on workers compensation and the general hardline approach of the HR departments has been outrageous. MUA members are asking to be treated with decency and respect.

Is this too much to ask?

Apparently it is as we find the company trying to cancel further meetings in order to move into Part B discussions where they can move to gain “bankable” productivity improvements.

The MUA does not shy away from the fact that we are making some cost claims. They are the minority of our claims however.

Our claims seek to deal with HR as stated but also seek to put in place some protections to deal with the company’s ultimate cost claim… and that is automation.

Job destroying automation is the ultimate productivity offset, the biggest cost claim ever from the company.

Does DP World recognise this? Apparently not.

Is this fair – No it is not!

Is safety a cost claim? We have raised safety as a fundamental issue. The union has presented a draft safety clause but so far after six meetings it has not conjured even a whisper from the company. This is consistent with the ongoing attempts by DP World to bomb our National Stevedoring Code of Practice (NSCOP) for safer operations on the waterfront.

Cost cost cost… this is all we hear from DP World. This cost myth is disingenuous. Let’s not forget this is a highly profitable company. In Brisbane around 50% of FSE jobs were destroyed during automation as well as many VSE jobs. Is this a “bankable” productivity gain? Apparently not. Sydney will be automated during the life of this next agreement. Melbourne is off the hook for the moment, at least for the life of this agreement, but we know automation will come and we need to prepare and have an agreement that reflects the improvements for workers due to this massive productivity and cost claim from the employer.

These improvements need to ensure less hours of work, improved union job coverage, no outsourcing, full disclosure and full negotiation and agreement. Workers who will unfortunately leave the industry need to be adequately compensated above and beyond the current redundancy arrangements.

When your Part A committee separated the claims we found they sat in the following categories. They were:

1. Automation 
2. HR 
3. Safety 
4. Family friendly/social 
5. Fair Work / Drafting 
6. Cost 

The overwhelming number of claims are not cost claims. The company after considerable opposition has agreed to meet us again between the 8-10 April. In the same breath DPW have cancelled the 15-17 April meetings. The union has rejected this and believes that we should meet.

We will continue to argue for as many meetings as possible as we need to resolve the fundamentally important issues that confront DPW workers as well as issues that affect all wharfies.

Part B meetings are being organised across all ports. These meetings from the employers perspective will consider productivity issues in the main. We have no issue with productivity. We understand the nature of increased competition and that productivity in this environment can assist in job security issues.

We do make the point however that productivity can be best achieved through a cooperative approach to the way the workplace operates. HR standovers and unsafe practices do not make for productivity improvements. Workers who are respected are the most productive.

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Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney