Media Centre

MIAL welcomes Minister’s intervention in DP World dispute with MUA 

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) welcomes the announcement by Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke that he will be meeting with DP World over the ongoing dispute between one of Australia’s major port operators and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

The long-running dispute has already caused significant disruption to Australia’s supply chain, harming our national economy, and reducing confidence for businesses looking to invest in Australia’s maritime industry. Since October, MUA action against DP World terminals has increasingly impacted the economy, Australian consumers, port users, exporters, and importers; with effects likely to increase until the dispute is resolved.

The MUA action includes refusing to work overtime and disruption to port activities, such as loading and unloading cargo, and the nomination of specific vessels to be impacted. MIAL CEO Angela Gillham says these actions have a serious impact on shipping in Australia.

“Australia has a storied history of industrial action on the waterfront and while we appreciate that both DP World and the MUA have stakeholders whose interests they prioritise, there comes a point where that cannot come at the expense of the entire Australian community,” says Gillham.

“It is critical that Australia is seen as an attractive place for businesses seeking to invest in maritime activity. This position is undoubtedly harmed by the lengthy delays caused by industrial action.”

MIAL notes that Australia’s industrial relations framework is complex, and the time, energy, and resources that must be dedicated to bargaining and other workplace relations issues are significant and detract from core operations. This has been the shared experience of many Australian shipping businesses and stevedores, which may in turn impact the growth of Australia’s maritime sector at a time when the Government has a very welcome focus on measures to expand Australia’s national maritime capability.

The current dispute shows that even after nine months of presumably good faith bargaining there is no outcome while three months of industrial action has not only been a cost burden to the employer, but to all other businesses who rely on the services they provide. Each of those businesses then needs to dedicate time and resources to mitigate the impact of the action.

“We continue to see significant disruptions to port operations as a result of protracted industrial disputes. The significant industrial relations reform agenda over the last two years has unfortunately not seen these disputes resolved more quickly,” says Gillham.

“We strongly support Minister Burke’s meeting with DP World and the necessary intervention that will bring to an end this costly industrial action to avoid further economic and reputational harm to Australia.”

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