Port operator moves to terminate agreement

Jack GramenzAAP
The maritime union has accused port operator Patrick Terminals of "bullying and intimidation".
Camera IconThe maritime union has accused port operator Patrick Terminals of "bullying and intimidation". Credit: AAP

One of the country's biggest port operators is engaging in "bullying and intimidation" by applying to terminate its agreement with more than 1000 workers, the Maritime Union says.

Patrick Terminals on Tuesday lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission to terminate its enterprise agreement, which it has been negotiating with the Maritime Union of Australia since February last year.

Patrick said the agreement is "no longer fit for purpose" due to "operational restrictions that have limited the ability to meet customer requirements at a time of congestion in global supply chains".

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said Patrick's application to the commission is "poor form and another example of the corporate arrogance and hubris by Patrick's senior management that has prevented earlier resolution of the few issues in our contract negotiations with them".

He accused the company of "bullying and intimidation" and trying to "defame the workforce by distorting public perceptions of a legally sanctioned bargaining process".

The "pointless and damaging provocation" will not stop workers and their representatives from returning to the bargaining table on Wednesday, he said.

Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic said the union had launched more than 220 industrial actions during the negotiations, and had recently launched stoppages, strikes and overtime bans at the company's terminals in Brisbane, Melbourne, Fremantle and Sydney.

"We are at the end of the road and need to have an agreement with our employees that works for our customers, and that allows us to remain competitive in the future market," Mr Jovicic said.

"Antiquated union-led processes and policies" were restricting the company's business and preventing it from being "able to recruit and promote the best people for the job", he said.

"There seems to be no agreement to be had, particularly in Sydney where the union is still demanding we hire from a selected list of family and friends," Mr Jovicic said.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Jamie Newlyn told AAP the union had reached an in-principle agreement over that issue and was "nuancing" the wording.

However, Patrick was engaging in "corporate thuggery" and "publicly trolling its workforce" with its application to terminate, he said.

Patrick gave a guarantee not to change leave entitlements, salaries or other rates of pay under the enterprise agreement for six months after the agreement is terminated, which it does not expect to happen until next year.

The company said workers will be covered by the most recent award wages on termination of the agreement and has asked the Fair Work Commission for an "expedited hearing" of its application.

Mr Newlyn said moving to the award would be "a huge diminishment of wages and conditions" and would allow Patrick to "casualise the workforce by stealth".

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