Iron ore shipping in Western Australia’s north-west faces significant production losses due to tug boat strike action.
The plans for industrial action against Teekay Shipping were announced yesterday by the Australian Institute of Marine & Power Engineers (AIMPE).
AIMPE engineers will take protected action at Port Hedland from 6am to 10am on Wednesday 12 November, stopping tug boats which tow the Capesize vessels to and from port.
A statement from Teekay said the company was regretful that the action would take place, and that they were surprised and disappointed in light of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements which were recently endorsed by the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
Employees represented by all three unions will vote on EBAs with similar terms, with the voting period to close on 9 November.
Teekay said engineers are paid a base salary of $220,000 for working approximately 182 days a year, and that the total salary package with benefits but excluding four weeks annual leave amounts to $280,000 to $390,000.
AIMPE senior national organiser Andrew Williamson said engineers often work longer than 12 hours at a time, with some shifts up to 20 hours.
“Teekay last week put out a unilateral employer ballot seeking the engineers to vote the company proposal in,” he said.
“They're asking their employees to vote on an agreement and it's against the wishes of the membership and the union.”
In an unrelated dispute marine vessel operator Farstad will also face strike action pursued by the MUA.
The MUA has planned four consecutive 24-hour stoppages starting on Saturday 15 November, which will affect offshore oil and gas service vessels.
Workers have sought a change from a 5/5 week to a 4/4 week roster, however this change was not supported by the AMOU or the AIMPE, which represents more than 50 per cent of Farstad’s workforce.
Farstad said the change would incur an additional $3 million to pay for additional non-productive travel days.
Farstad Australian managing director Wayne Aitken said the MUA’s push for a roster change was perplexing.
“We value and respect our workers and the consistent feedback is that most are happy with current rostering arrangements,” he said.
“It’s hard to understand why a lone union would push for damaging industrial action over such a matter.
“We are working closely with our customers to try and to mitigate the operational effects of the proposed industrial action.
“It’s important that the MUA reflects on this situation with a view to averting reckless and damaging industrial action.”