MUA members in South Australia – along with everyone else in the State- got some startling news last week. “MUA members in Port Botany holding Patricks to ransom, urgent medical supplies being held up, greedy wharfies after a 6% payrise-already on $170K, 40 container ships waiting outside of Sydney waiting to get into the Port Botany Terminal.”
This was not only startling to us in South Australia; it was also startling to the MUA members at Patricks in Port Botany and the MUA officials involved in the EBA. Why? Because all the information was- at best- deliberately misleading and some of it just out and out lies. Designed to put the union on the back foot and help Patricks management attack the MUA and members hard won terms and conditions.
Some actual facts:
1. The MUA initially claimed 6% at the start of the year, when bargaining commenced. But by May the MUA had proposed a 2.5% rollover which Patricks management rejected.
2. The MUA policy is to ensure all medical supplies and perishable goods are moved during industrial action. Patricks delos checked with management on the job after the ‘(fake) news’ broke and took the opportunity to restate the union policy. Not one container was identified by management as containing any urgent medical supplies.
3. 40 ships waiting? Patricks own map tracking container vessels did have 40 ships on it. But they were as far away as Manila, the Indian Ocean, the other side of the Tasman, etc. Hardly a backlog- more like usual shipping traffic.
4. MUA members aren’t on $170K and would have been very, very happy to accept that if Patricks offered it. They didn’t- and won’t.
So what did Patricks actually offer? Two days of negotiations in the Fair Work Commission resulted in Patrick offering either a small wage increase with a whole lot of terms and conditions stripped out of the EA, or retain the conditions, but with no payrise.
Times are tough right? We’ve had JobKeeper operating. Patrick parent Company Qube actually received $18 million in JobKeeper payments. And they also paid out $10 million in executive bonuses! No tough times for these bosses! Smell a rat? We sure do!!
And for those of us old enough to remember the Patrick Dispute in 1998,one of its main features was the extent to which the then Howard Government (and Peter Reith the then Minister of IR) backed -and some say conspired with -Patricks. So maybe with all the lies and bullshit last week we are just being reminded that leopards don’t change their spots!
To quote a great song:
“Don’t listen to the bosses, don’t listen to their lies! Workers haven’t got a chance unless we organise. Which side are you on? which side are you on?” The MUA- standing up for maritime workers dignity and rights since 1872! “