Patrick Terminals, in the week before Christmas, have indicated they plan to sack a number of hard working Team Leaders from their Melbourne stevedoring workforce. This occurs in the midst of a union-led ceasefire of hostilities and a promise earlier this month by the Union’s National Secretary Paddy Crumlin that there would no industrial action during the Christmas season.
“Patrick Terminals stand condemned for this opportunistic act of corporate bastardry,” said MUA Assistant National Secretary, Jamie Newlyn.
The Maritime Union has been negotiating with Patrick Terminals for almost two years, asking them to settle an employment agreement that both parties can be happy with.
“The decision to sack hard working stevedoring workers on the eve of Christmas just goes to show that this company are determined to escalate hostilities between management and the workforce. They are militant bosses who are looking for a fight at any cost,” Mr Newlyn said.
It’s understood the pretext for sacking the Melbourne terminal Team Leaders is that they’ve not met productivity benchmarks, but no concession is being made for the massive disruptions and delays caused by COVID-19 and the various lockdowns, health protocols and biosecurity measures in place at Australian ports that affect all stevedoring operations.
“Patrick Terminals are taking advantage of the good faith commitment the MUA has made not to undertake industrial action before Christmas and are essentially sacking these Team Leaders for following the letter of the law and implementing COVID safety protocols”, Mr Newlyn said. “This is illegal, immoral and an abuse of process”, he added.
“You have to ask whether Patrick Terminals retains the confidence of the Australian community when they are basically thumbing their noses at COVID safety protocols and the biosecurity regime implemented by Border Force at our ports”, Mr Newlyn said.
Over the past three months, some 190 Patrick Terminals dockworkers have had to quarantine in Melbourne due to COVID-19 exposures. Of course, on top of this, Melbourne’s terminal has been subject to the same rolling lockdowns over the past 18 months which have disrupted the entire Victorian economy.
Seaports, even more than airports, are the frontline for COVID-19 entering the country, and port workers have stepped up and made massive sacrifices to follow the tough biosecurity protocols in place at every Australian port. These workers, rather than Patrick Terminals’ management, have separated and segregated themselves and their families and practiced extreme sanitation and social distancing measures to ensure they can continue to perform their essential, front-line roles.
“Patrick Terminals are quite simply out of control, and this just proves that they have been acting in bad faith all along. They need to decide which COVID protocols they want to scrap and who will take responsibility for scrapping them, because these workers are being sacked for following company policy and government health guidelines, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” Mr Newlyn said.