MUA threatens to black ban International Shipping Lines over dispute in Fremantle


The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Fremantle branch has begun targeting International shipping lines in an attempt to organise black bans of vessels visiting the Qube Fremantle terminal.  

Update: MUA’s statement available here

Qube has been told by the MUA that they have contacted major International shipping lines  via their union network both in Europe and Japan, threatening customers that their ships  will be black banned and face international backlash if they continue to work with Qube.  They are urging shipping lines to move their contracts for stevedoring in Fremantle and  possibly Brisbane to LINX, a competitor of Qube. 

Michael Sousa, Director, Qube Ports said: “This behaviour from the MUA is both disgraceful  and unAustralian. The MUA is using bullying tactics against Qube customers that put businesses, jobs and the Western Australian economy at risk. We have had an agreement  with the MUA since August 2020 in 25 out of 26 ports. This latest stunt by the Fremantle  branch of the MUA in their failing campaign against Qube and its customers demonstrates  just how low they will go. We call on them again to return to work, take the agreed pay rise  and honor the agreement reached with their national office.” 

 Background to the Situation 

  • 134 full time employees working for Qube in their Fremantle terminal earn on  average $139,500 per annum for just 169 days of work, equating to approx. 34  weeks per week . They also have highly favourable conditions including the ability to  apply for up to 42 days personal leave days in addition to their standard leave. 
  • In August 2020, Qube and the MUA reached national agreement on a roll over of  their existing enterprise agreement providing Qube employees with a 2.5% year on  year increase for 4 years. 
  • All sites across the country honoured this deal except the MUA Fremantle branch. The MUA Fremantle branch has 42 claims that they are refusing to reduce and  commenced industrial action on the 30th July 2021.  
  • The Union are claiming that this industrial action is based on their demand to receive  a 1400 allocation time which is not in alignment with Qube customer contracts nor  the existing agreement nor the rest of the country. The National MUA has been  provided with contracts that include the clause allowing allocation of labour up until  1600 local time and have agreed on this requirement. The 1600 allocation of labour has been part of the existing agreement since 1999. 
  • The Qube Fremantle workforce is taking protected industrial action as they do not  want to accept the Enterprise Agreement that has been agreed at the MUA National  branch. This agreement has been voted on and accepted by all other Qube Ports  employees. 
  • Qube has not locked out employees and continue to allocate employees as per the  existing enterprise agreement. Employees are choosing to not come to work unless  they are allocated as per their 1400 request – which is not in line with their current  agreement nor commercially viable with existing customer contracts. 
  • Qube has called on the MUA National Office to intervene and to honour the deal  that was made. 
  • Qube is continuing to service vessels at the Port of Fremantle using experienced  employees. These employees are qualified and experienced for the tasks they are  performing. All employees are approved port workers and have completed induction  requirements as required for the Port of Fremantle.
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