Port staff to strike for four hours

Workers at Port Waratah Coal Services will take strike action next Wednesday after bargaining meetings with management failed to resolve a 10-month dispute.

The decision to take stop work action comes after a meeting between the unions and PWCS failed to resolve ongoing disputes over new enterprise agreements.

More than 200 Port Waratah Coal Services workers voted to take action.

The union warned this week that it would take industrial action in the form of indefinite stoppage of overtime and a ban on shift changeovers on Sunday.

However now they plan to engage in a four hour work stoppage between 10am and 2pm next Wednesday.

“This step is a carefully considered response to the company’s lack of willingness to settle this dispute,” MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said.

Maritime Union of Australia branch secretary Mick Forbes said PWCS wants to change enterprise bargaining clauses related to dispute settlement and contracting

Forbes described the proposed changes as “union busting”.

“Rio Tinto and PWCS need to understand that Australia is not Bangladesh,”  Bray said.

“In Australia, we have standards established over many years to make sure workers’ have a voice, a decent standard of living and, most important, a safety and health regime so their life and limbs are safeguarded.”

The MUA claim anti-union proposals in the new agreements seek to undermine the safety and health of workers and tear up longstanding settlement procedures around contract issues.

Earlier this week a spokesman for PWCS told Australian Mining the company had been open in its negotiations.

“PWCS has been negotiating in good faith since July last year,” the spokesperson said.

“There is nothing that PWCS is proposing or seeking to negotiate in the new agreement that does not respect the rights of employees to belong to a union, or to be represented collectively.”

The spokesman said contingency plans are in place should the strikes go ahead to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.

Image: smh.com.au

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