COVID-19 - Waterfront Workers Information

Published: 27 Mar 2020

14 August 2020
The Maritime Union of Australia has again written to stevedoring employers with an updated Maritime Industry framework for the waterfront.
The continuity of global and national trade and supply is secured through the protection of workers physical and psychosocial health and safety, and there remains a clear imperative for an immediate and cooperative approach to delivering this.
There must be a greater commitment to embed a robust set of protocols, consistently applied and reviewed, that safeguard the maritime industry from potential shutdowns through the protection of workers’ health.  PPE, such as masks, must be made available to workers across the maritime transport network with priority of supply for these economically essential workers.
The stevedoring sector and its critical trade and supply position remain exposed while there is opposition to a coordinated, cooperative approach to risk control.  We continue to seek genuine ways to communicate, across all levels of government and industry, on the vulnerabilities and credible threats to the continuity of operations.
The MUA is committed to a practical Framework of control measures that reduce the risks identified and we welcome the opportunity, through the facilitation of government, to once again engage with Stevedoring companies in a constructive process aimed at the continued identification and assessment of risk and application of effective control measures.
Our reviewed industry framework, developed with careful consideration of the impacts of COVID and the effective methods of risk mitigation.  We have sought to continually update this framework with best practice guidance and consultation.
27 March 2020
The Maritime Union of Australia has written to major businesses in Australia’s maritime supply chain seeking the urgent implementation of a consistent, industry-wide framework aimed at preventing viral transmission on worksites.

The union’s proposed framework (attached) has been drawn together based on current health advice, along with industry developments internationally, with the aim of ensuring best-practice measures are in place to protect the health and safety of maritime workers.
With approximately 98 per cent of Australian imports arriving by sea, including essential medical supplies, food, fuel, and other household items, preventing the spread of this disease is vital to ensuring supply chains remain operational and freight continues to flow safely.
MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation President Paddy Crumlin said he was surprised and concerned that some Australian businesses, particularly stevedores, had been reluctant to meet and discuss the current situation.
“While workers are acutely aware of the significant role they play in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some stevedores had taken an unfortunate and unsustainable approach, going it alone rather than embracing a consistent industry-wide solution,” Mr Crumlin said.
“In other areas, such as intermodal and logistics, there has been a much more mature approach.
“That is why we are seeking to urgently meet with key businesses, in particular stevedores, to implement a clear, concise, consistent framework that addresses the identifiable health and safety risks this pandemic poses and acts on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.
“The scale of this crisis places a collective responsibility on our vital industry to show leadership, find consensus, and implement immediate solutions that protect lives and prevent potential disruptions to our national supply chain.
“Thousands of maritime workers — including tug crews towing ships, linesmen tying them up, and wharfies loading and unloading them — are on the front line ensuring the current health and economic crisis isn’t exacerbated by the breakdown of supply chains.
“While our members remain committed to ensuring freight continues to move smoothly during this pandemic, this can only be achieved if the industry embraces appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on worksites.
“Not only could it be potentially catastrophic for workers who catch this virus, but any illness will cause substantial disruptions as highly-skilled workers are lost from their vital roles.
“We are urging all maritime employers to work with us to implement these protocols to minimise the risk of infection to workers or the general public.”
Media contact: Tim Vollmer 0404 273 313
Click here to view MUA Maritime Industry Framework 



Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney