The Fair Work Commission has granted orders allowing a ballot of tug crews employed by Svitzer Australia at dozens of ports around Australia to determine whether they will undertake legally protected industrial action.
Fair Work Commission Deputy President Anna Booth last week granted the Maritime Union of Australia the right to hold the ballot, with workers to vote on whether they will undertake a range of actions such as stoppages, bans on overtime, and temporary changes to work practices.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said the decision to hold the ballot of members, which will be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, was made after months of stalled negotiations
“Svitzer Australia has essentially been unwilling to enter into meaningful negotiations for a new enterprise agreement following the expiration of the previous deal,” Mr Bray said.
“Rather than engage in genuine negotiations, the company put forward an offer that would have imposed wage freezes for the next two years.
“With negotiations stalled for months, and Svitzer showing no willingness to bargain in good faith to reach an agreement, the union has made the decision to escalate the matter by undertaking a protected action ballot of members.
“Our members are being asked to vote on 20 potential forms of industrial action, including stoppages of various lengths, bans on overtime, a requirement to return to the berth for breaks, and modifications to work practices such as a refusal to undertake online training or use certain work systems.
“Workers are frustrated that the Svitzer is not only refusing to bargain in good faith, but at the same time has been pressing ahead with aggressive attacks on the Port Operating Procedures in several ports.”
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