A STEVEDORING company has risked bringing Covid into WA to make a point against its striking workers, says the Maritime Union.
Earlier this week Qube started diverting container ships bound for Fremantle port to Melbourne because workers at its Fremantle site have been on strike for five weeks over an enterprise bargaining agreement.
The cargo will have to be unloaded in Victoria before being trucked back, but Maritime Union of Australia WA branch secretary Will Tracey says the company’s tactic has put all Western Australians’ health at risk because the truckers will be coming from a Covid outbreak.
“It’s the same as when they brought scab labour on to unload those ships – those were our jobs – and they breached the Covid rules by not wearing masks,” Mr Tracey said.
“We would have had that gear off inside three days of the vessel getting alongside.
“Instead, they stretched deliveries out to 20 days just to prove a point.” He reckons the aim was to drive a wedge between the wharfies and frustrated customers.
While an enterprise agreement between Qube and the MUA has around seven issues still under negotiation, Mr Tracey says the flashpoint is around Qube’s refusal to deliver its rosters earlier. He says they’re handed out at 4pm, which doesn’t give workers allocated a night shift enough time to prepare, and they end up tired and unable to get a decent work/life balance.
“They’ll bounce you around between night shifts and day shifts without any knowledge until 4pm the day before, and it causes massive fatigue issues,” Mr Tracey said.
Qube settled with workers at other ports around the country last year, and general manager Dan Coulton told 7 News that Fremantle workers needed to follow line.
Mr Tracey said Qube refused to look at any of the claims put forward by the Freo workers.
In an Interview with Channel 7 News, Qube General Manager Dan Coulton said employees at Qube’s Fremantle site need to agree to the terms as other sites around the country.
Mr Tracey said while other Qube locations around the country have been able to resolve their local claims the stevedore has refused to consider action on any claims put forth by their employees at Fremantle port.
“For 18 months there has been a flat-out refusal to address any claims,” he said.
“We will continue the strike until we get some movement on the key issues around safety, around hours of work and around work life balance.”
by CAIN ANDREWS and STEVE GRANT