Svitzer abandons action to terminate its enterprise bargaining agreement with the three unions representing Australian tugboat workers.
The previous EBA expired in 2019. The Maritime Union Australia, Australian Maritime Officers Unions and the Australian Institute of Marine Power have been negotiating with the Dutch owned company since.
Svitzer announced it’s plan to cancel the EBA in August last year which resulted in industrial action. The company has been bargaining with unions over last four months with assistance from Fair Work Commission.
Svitzer was pushing for a new EBA that included big pay cuts, fewer safety and fatigue management measures and less job security. It had locked out workers and frozen workers’ wages.
Terminating the EBA would have put workers back on Award rates meaning a 47% pay cut. This would undermine safety standards that have been hard-won by workers over many years of negotiations.
Svitzer Australia managing director Nicolas Noes says, “Unfortunately, despite significant efforts by Svitzer to reach a compromise we have not yet reached an agreement,
“However, Svitzer can today advise that in further efforts to try reach a deal, on Friday (14 April) Svitzer agreed to withdraw its application to terminate the enterprise agreement”
“Svitzer and the unions will now continue to bargain in good faith, with the ongoing assistance of the Fair Work Commission, until the 31st of May,”
“The parties have also agreed to not undertake any industrial action during this period.”
In response to this announcement Maritime Union Australia’s assistant national secretary Jamie Newlyn says that “removing this threat will allow us to move forward constructively, and the three maritime unions will now work towards finalising a new agreement with Svitzer that delivers a fair pay rise along with the safety and job security measures our members depend on,
“Tugboat workers have been denied a pay rise for over four years as this process has been deliberately strung out by Svitzer’s managers and lawyers, with the added threat of complete termination hanging over their heads.”
MUA’s Sydney branch deputy secretary, Paul Garrett, adds, “sadly, a considerable amount of time, energy and resources have been expended on this process, and these resources could have long ago been better put by Svitzer towards rewarding the hard work and loyalty of their employees with a fair pay rise.”
Australian Council of Trade Union’s executive passed unanimous motion on Feb 2 condemning Svitzer’s “restless and ongoing attack.”
This latest development allow parties to work with Fair Work Commission to finalise a new employment agreement to replace the one that expired in 2019.