Union Picketing Disrupts Ports in Brisbane and Sydney

Union picketing is disrupting operations at Hutchison Ports Australia’s terminals in Sydney and Brisbane, even after the terminal operator denied accusations that it slashed workers at its facilities to bring in more automation, the Journal of Commerce reports.

Workers are also protesting at Port Botany in New South Wales.  Maritime Union of Australia Queensland state secretary Mr Carnegie said the Brisbane workers stood in solidarity with the Sydney workforce in “total unity” and would not agree to separate talks.

Because of picketing, the terminal reportedly failed to load the 777 twenty-foot-equivalent unit capacity Capitaine Tasman at Port Botany, which services Sydney, and another vessel failed to arrive at Brisbane after workers blocked the road to Berth 11. The disruptions took place despite a Fair Work Commission ruling Friday that “industrial action must stop, not occur and not be organized.”

The commission was set to Monday afternoon to further discuss the work actions and  layoffs, which were made unilaterally and without union input. HPH fired workers at its Brisbane and Sydney facilities via text and email in the middle of the night last week, spurring the blockades.  Hutchison Ports Australia announced in June that it would be reducing the size of its workforce in Sydney and Brisbane and claims the layoffs were due to financial pressures, even as rumors that HPH is considering a joint venture with Manila-based global stevedore International Container Terminal Services to use non-union labor abound.

The Maritime Union of Australia is seeking an injunction against the sackings in the Federal Court.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and report further updates once available.