Trucking companies feeling pinch from shipping container crisis

Leading stevedore Patrick Terminals has applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to urgently seek an end to costly industrial action by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) at four ports.

In its application to the commission, Patrick said industrial action had occurred since August 27 and September 4 after the union rejected its draft enterprise bargaining agreement that included guaranteed pay rises of 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent over four years.

Patrick said the MUA, which wants a 6 per cent annual wage increase for four years and a further 60 claims for changes to conditions across terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle, has labelled the EBA a “sh.. agreement”.

According to one report, the average wharfie is already earning $155,000 per year, with top earners receiving more than $200,000.

The work bans and stoppages have resulted in 40 container ships off the Australian coast waiting to come into port, according Patrick chief executive Michael Jovicic, with the company three weeks behind schedule at Port Botany and more than a week at Melbourne.

“Patrick Terminals moves around 45 per cent of the containerised freight which passes through the four ports where it operates, equating to many thousands of containers each day,” the submission states.

Simon O’Hara, CEO of peak body Road Freight NSW, told Ben Fordham on 2GB this morning that the parties need to come together urgently to resolve the Port Botany dispute before it does long-term damage to trucking operators and the wider economy.

“What we need at the port is certainty, and what we need from government is certainty, and what we want to see here is both parties, the MUA and the stevedores come to the table, talk in mature way and resolve this issue,” said O’Hara.

“This is not just about a 6% pay rise, it’s the Australian economy and we’re at a fragile point at this time.”

O’Hara told Fordham he welcomed the news through late last week that stevedore DP World Australia was now close to an agreement with the union, but more work needs to be done.

“What we’d like to see is an agreement reached with other stevedores and do it a manner that’s quick and efficient and returns us to some degree of productivity.

“We’ve got members telling us they don’t hold out much of this being resolved within three months, and if it’s three months we’re looking at a pretty average Christmas.

“If they don’t sort it out, then Scott Morrison has to sort it out.”

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