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Australian Court Blocks Union Action in DP World Dispute

Credit: Maritime Union of Australia
Credit: Maritime Union of Australia

Published Feb 2, 2020 4:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

Australia's Federal Court has issued an interim injunction banning wharfies from undertaking industrial action as part of their fight for a new workplace agreement.

The court order prevents more than 1,800 workers employed at DP World Australia container terminals in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle from taking any form of legally protected industrial action until March 13, 2020.

The Maritime Union of Australia said the decision should send a shudder down the spine of all working Australians, with the Federal Court entrenching the power of foreign and local corporations and undermining the ability of workers to have any chance of standing up against workplace greed, inequality and for justice in the workplace.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said the Federal Court decision was just the latest in a long list of aggressive moves by DP World Australia aimed at forcing workers to accept management’s demands for a new workplace agreement. “This injunction doesn’t just prevent wharfies from taking legally protected industrial action, it is an alarming attack on democratic rights that will give companies open slather to strip all Australian workers of long held workplace conditions, which will effectively mean reduced standards of living for all.”

He says that in the last year, DP World management have cancelled approved holidays, attempted to strip away social benefits such as income protection, sacked workers, docked pay, prevented workers from meeting with their union representatives, canceled Christmas bonuses and threatened the mass termination of 10 percent of the workforce.

DP World Australia issued a statement saying it welcomed the Federal Court’s decision. DP World Australia Chief Operating Officer Andrew Adam said the order meant it was business as usual at the terminals, and customers could be assured there would be no disruption to normal services.

DPWA sought an injunction against industrial action coordinated by the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union (CFMMEU) on the grounds at least one of the union’s claims in enterprise bargaining was not permitted under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Adam said the statement by the union over local worker rights is another attempt to distract CFMMEU members’ attention from its mismanagement of bargaining for new enterprise agreements at DP World Australia’s terminals around Australia.