Australian Wharfies Refuse to Unload New Crane

Port of Newcastle

Published Sep 30, 2019 9:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Maritime Union of Australia held a four-hour stop work meeting of wharfies from across the three Newcastle stevedoring companies and unanimously resolved to refuse to unload a new bulk-unloading crane which they believe will cost jobs.

The meeting resolved to fight against Port of Newcastle plans to employ its own workforce which would effectively be a fourth stevedoring operator and undermine the work and available hours in the port for existing stevedoring companies and workers. 

Maritime Union of Australia Newcastle Branch Secretary Glen Williams said workers would now take their unified demands directly to the management of the Port of Newcastle. “We are seeking to meet with Port of Newcastle management urgently to outline these demands, along with a proposal for a compact between the port and union covering current and future development.”

In response, a spokesperson for the Port of Newcastle said: "Port of Newcastle is investing in a $35 million state-of-the-art ship unloader that incorporates the latest safety and environmental compliance features and will deliver efficiencies for customers. This level of infrastructure investment has not been seen before at Port of Newcastle since privatization.

"Stevedore employees experience a high degree of casualisation. Port of Newcastle is interested in creating a number of full-time positions for wharf and crane operators that would provide workers with greater job security and the education and training required to support the operation of the new ship unloader.

"Port of Newcastle has initiated discussions with the Maritime Union of Australia regarding the project. While the parties have met on three occasions to discuss the project, these discussions are at a very early stage. Port of Newcastle does not currently have an Enterprise Agreement with the MUA for wharf operations."