Wednesday 30 September 2020

Port Botany: Point and Counterpoint.

The Point.

Peter van Duyn – formerly General Manager Container Terminals, Patrick Corporation (1989-2000) and currently maritime logistics expert, Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics at Deakin University – purports to explain what the dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Terminals is all about.

That is an admirable purpose, to be sure. And one can wholeheartedly agree with him that cool heads are required.

Unfortunately, having spent 20 years as a boss at Patrick – including the dramatic year 1998 he evidently remembers well – Van Duyn seems only able of seeing the world through boss’ eyes.

In his latest piece for The Conversation Australia, Van Duyn starts by claiming that the union “initially asked for a 6% annual pay increase”. Readers will surely feel that sounds exorbitant, yes? I myself would. Australia is going through a recession, after all. 

Certainly that’s how the Patrick management team feels and how Van Duyn may feel.

But that’s not the whole truth. That union demand is the price asked for the tightened working conditions management demanded. News junkies – like yours truly – may find the term quid pro quo useful here. That 6% increase was the quid pro quo the union asked.

Van Duyn traces the start of the dispute to the quid. He only mentions the quo, the 50 pages of change in working conditions … in passing, towards the end of his article. And then, disappointingly, he gives it no second thought. 

It’s called enterprise bargaining for a reason: quid pro quo.

Nor he gives a second thought to the fact – he also mentions – that Patrick management has lied about medical supplies shortages.

The Counterpoint.


The Maritime Union of Australia will today use a conciliation hearing of the Fair Work Commission to formally offer a peace deal to Patrick that could deliver an immediate end to all industrial action at the company’s container terminals.

The union proposal would see the company’s existing workplace agreement extended for 12 months, maintaining the status quo with existing terms and conditions, while providing a reasonable 2.5 per cent pay rise to wharfies.

By extending the existing agreement for a year, it would prevent any form of protected industrial action from occurring, providing certainty for Patrick, workers, and the Australian community.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said that while the union rejected Patrick’s outlandish and baseless delay claims, it was acting to address the concerns of the broader Australian community.
The full media release.

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