Australian supply chains are facing chaos as the nation’s largest tug boat operator has warned it will lock out its crews from Friday in the latest chapter of a bitter three-year pay dispute.
Maersk subsidiary Svitzer today gave notice of a lockout from Friday indefinitely to all harbour towage employees covered under its 2016 National Towage Enterprise Agreement and their union bargaining representatives, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE) and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU).
Every Australian will now suffer from this delinquent company’s selfish and pigheaded conduct
Svitzer said it took the decision under the provisions of the Fair Work Act in response to ongoing industrial action being organised by the unions, which has seen strikes become common place at Australian ports.
When the lockout becomes effective, no shipping vessels will be towed in or out of 17 Australian ports otherwise serviced by Svitzer.
Svitzer has been bargaining with the maritime unions for over three years, since the towage enterprise agreement expired in 2019.
“We had hoped it would never come to a lockout – but we are at a point where we see no other option but to respond to the damaging industrial action underway by the unions,” said Svitzer managing director Nicolaj Noes.
“For many years Svitzer has enjoyed near monopoly status as the only major towage provider in Australia’s biggest ports. Locking out their workers will wreck Australia’s productivity, prevent consumer goods, and bulk commodities being loaded or discharged at major ports like Botany, Kembla, Melbourne, Newcastle and Brisbane and every Australian business and consumer will now suffer from this delinquent company’s selfish and pigheaded conduct,” a release from the Maritime Union of Australia stated.