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Source: Maritime Union of New Zealand

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is backing Fremantle port workers in their dispute with Qube Stevedores.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the dispute has identified global shipping conglomerate Wallenius Wilhelmsen (WWL) as one of the drivers behind the scenes.

The Maritime Union of Australia are in dispute with Qube Ports Pty Ltd regarding the negotiation of a new Enterprise Agreement in the Port of Fremantle.

Union labour has not been employed by Qube in Fremantle since 30 July 2021, and scab labour has been used on five WWL ships.

Mr Harrison says a substantial financial donation has been sent to the Fremantle port workers to support what he says is now a serious dispute with international repercussions.

He says Maritime Union members would attempt to deliver a letter of protest to the Captain of the Thermopylae, a WWL ship that will be coming into the Ports of Auckland on Monday 20 September.

Mr Harrison says during lengthy negotiations between the MUA and the employer, Qube have laid responsibility for their refusal to agree to claims around work allocation, shifts, rosters and planned time off on their clients including WWL.

He says the dispute with Qube is not about wages but is focussed firmly on providing workers with a safer work environment.

“The bargaining claims are primarily about improving fatigue management practices and occupational health and safety on the job while ensuring that workers have a proper work-life balance.”

Mr Harrison says the use of scab non-skilled labour in the dispute is entirely unacceptable to the Maritime Union of New Zealand and its branches in all ports of New Zealand.

“Ports of Auckland has had several deaths in recent years and as a result our members feel very strongly about the need for high quality health and safety, working conditions and work/life balance.”

Mr Harrison says the extremely high profits being extracted by global shippers were being made through the work of maritime workers, who deserved safe working conditions.