WA port freight faces eight days of disruption

Fremantle and Kwinana may come to a standstill for the week before Christmas as MUA faces off with State Government over mass redundancy protection

December 17, 2012

Western Australian freight transport firms and supply chains could be caught up in a protracted waterfront reform struggle as the WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) began industrial action at Fremantle and Kwinana.

The could last for eight days following the start at 5.30am this morning but State Government and union positions appear to be entrenched.

Despite agreeing a pay deal last week, the union says it is now acting to ward off the possibility of mass layoffs in the event on a privatisation of the port in the next four years.

State Transport Minister and Treasurer Troy Buswell has denied publically claims that such a privatisation is contemplated but will not meet the union demand on this point, insisting the port authority must have flexibility.

Buswell has highlighted his frustration at WA MUA tactics but that has cut no ice with the union, which claims the Government "was happy to agree to this clause during negotiations with health workers but they refuse to apply the same job security to dock workers".

"Troy Buswell has previously promised he won’t privatise, and this clause only matters if they privatise," the union's Assistant WA State Secretary, Will Tracey, says.

"The MUA has made fresh offers to the Port and State Government to resolve the dispute.

"We’ve promised to negotiate in good faith regarding redundancies in the case they privatise.

"We’ve offered to keep working and let Fair Work Australia, the independent umpire, decide."

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