August 7, 2020

OPINION: as an industrial action crisis looms, it is no accident that enterprise agreements have expired across the waterfront

Industrial action at the DP World container terminals around the country may just be the tip of a “protected industrial action” iceberg.

A deliberate, organised and co-ordinated campaign to cause widespread disruption across the cargo-handling waterfront appears to be underway. 

Ocean freight and logistics is vital to the lives of everyday Australians no matter how far they live from the sea. It’s especially true right now that international aviation is working at a fraction of capacity.

Ships carry the foodstuffs, medical equipment, medical supplies and everyday goods upon which Australian families rely.

That’s why the freight and logistics sector has been recognised as an essential service throughtout the COVID-19 crisis.

That’s why ports, terminals and logistics have been required to work even when many other industries were forced to shut. 

That’s why hospitals have medical supplies to care for Australians and that’s why supermarkets have food and everyday goods for us to buy.

Unions may be about to do what the pandemic could not. That’s to shut down the waterfront and the flow of goods upon which all Australians rely.

At a time when global and national economies are reeling, at a time when Australians are being forced out of work, at a time when many people are struggling to find the money to keep a roof over their head and food on their plate, it is contemptible that unions are pushing to extract even greater work benefits. 

At a time of national emergency and disaster, merely threatening to endanger the the supply chain upon which we all rely is highly worrying and unconscionable.  

Actually endangering the flow of goods to Australian families by organising coordinated and widespread protected industrial action, which looks like what is happening, would be reckless, despicable and dangerous.

Shipping Australia condemns any attempt to carry out coordinated sector-wide industrial action at any time, but particularly during this terrible health and economic crisis.

It is wrong, it is dangerous to Australia and it is a slap in the face to every ordinary Australian family struggling to get by during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shipping Australia calls upon the union leaders to exercise restraint and think further than their own personal gain. This coordinated campaign would bring the Australian waterfront to its knees and would devastate ordinary Australian families.

We also call for industrial relations reform so that no-one sector can be held to ransom at one time.

Find out more about this grave threat to the Australian national interest.

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