Patrick Seeks End to MUA Agreement

Leading container terminal operator Patrick Terminals has lodged an application with the industrial umpire, Fair Work Commission, to terminate its Enterprise Agreement with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), upping the ante in its long-running dispute with the union.

The agreement is no longer fit for purpose, as it contains a number of operational restrictions that have limited the ability of Patrick to meet customer requirements at a time of congestion in global supply chains, it says.

Patrick has been negotiating with its employees and the MUA since February 2020 to seek to address these restrictions and has held more than 70 meetings in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement.

The MUA has launched more than 220 industrial actions against Patrick Terminals nationally during the negotiation period. This has intensified recently with further action launched at all four of Patrick’s terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle for the coming days and weeks.

Michael Jovicic, CEO Patrick Terminals has been quoted as saying: “Enough is enough. We have presented the MUA with an attractive national offer on top of their already very generous agreement including a 10% pay increase across four years coupled with protections addressing concerns over the use of casuals and job security.”

Patrick has offered the following to the MUA over the past 12 months:
• 2.5% year on year increase for four years
• Guaranteed job security with no forced redundancies
• Commitment to preserving jobs with a focus on permanent roles
• Caps on usage of casual labour

Patrick Terminals has guaranteed not to change leave entitlements, salaries and other rates of pay that are applicable under the Enterprise Agreement for employees for a period of 6 months from the date of any termination order, probably next year.

Consequences of termination

  • the Enterprise Agreement would cease to cover or apply to Patrick, and to 1081 stevedoring employees
  • the Stevedoring Industry Award 2020 would apply to them instead
  • Patrick would be able to – among other things –
    • hire additional employees without agreement from the union
    • determine the composition of its workforce, with the agreement of the union
    • make changes to rosters without the agreement of the union
    • avoid a significant accumulation of unworked hours that have been paid for in annual salaries
    • recruiting a person for a job regardless of union affiliation or association
    • remove minimum manning clauses, which the company says are really union vetos on headcount
    • remove clauses that make the implementation of new technology and operational difficult or delayed
    • remove from the enterprise agreement matters that should be subject to corporate policy for example, provision of Foxtel, gym allowances, tea and coffee, grills, lounges and recliner seats

Patrick argues that the termination would enable it to operate more efficiently, with benefits for all participants in the import / export supply chain that depend on container stevedoring.

Patrick Terminals has requested an expedited hearing of this application with the Fair Work Commission.

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