Dockworkers from three stevedoring corporations at the Port of Newcastle in Australia, protested through a h-hour stop work meeting against the arrival of a new bulk uploading crane which according to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), could potentially threaten job security.
The MUA assistant national secretary, Warren Smith stated that ‘The MUA has demanded the Port of Newcastle withdraw its plans to exclude existing wharfies from their current work’.
In fact, workers agreed to go against the port’s plan to engage its own personnel and eventually become a fourth stevedoring operator and thus put at risk the work and available hours for existing stevedoring workers and corporations.
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It was after the port management suspended the wharfies from driving the new crane that they stopped working. Additionally, they have also committed to fight for securing a union port compact concerning the development of the port, including the K2 crane and other potential container terminal construction and operation.
Warren Smith also noted that the “management must also consult with stakeholders to ensure any new equipment in the Port of Newcastle is designed to improve overall port productivity, but not at the expense of the working people of Newcastle and their community.”
A spokesperson of the port of Newcastle stated that the port invested AUD 35 million (USD 23.6 million) in a vessel unloader that adheres to the latest safety and environmental compliance features and will be of help for the customers. It was also added that even though discussions are at an early stage, the port has approached the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) in relation to the project.
It was underlined that
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.