December 7, 2022

Tugboat giant Svitzer to lock out workers amid supply chain threat to hit ports across the country

Svitzer chief executive Nicolaj Noes said “we are at a point where we see no other option but to respond to the ongoing damaging industrial action by the unions”.

“Svitzer has an obligation to serve its customers safely, reliably and efficiently and to ensure imports and exports, and our country’s trade and supply chains operate without interruption,” he said.

“The inability to reach a new company agreement and the high number of protected industrial actions prevent us from doing so.”

Unions have stepped up industrial action over the past month, including banning the maintenance of Maersk vessels.

In a statement, Svitzer said the industrial action harms its ability to “reliably, safely and efficiently serve our maritime customers and port operations nationwide and severely disrupts the nation’s supply chain that depends on transportation. maritime”.

“With every industrial action, valuable imports and exports are delayed, interrupted, or goods and products are lost.”

The company has been negotiating with unions since September 2019 and has held 75 bargaining meetings in total, but none since October 20.

Meanwhile, Svitzer has applied to end his nearly 100-page union agreement as a means of removing conditions, which include clauses on manning.

The current agreement allows unions to nominate members for new jobs and participate in screening and even interviewing candidates.

Casual employees, who receive a 25% premium under the subsidy, receive a 100% premium in the agreement and must be paid for a full day, regardless of the number of hours worked.

The agreement also limits when a particular job can be done, forcing the company to hire more workers to do other jobs for the rest of the day.

Workers earn between $130,000 and $200,000 a year depending on whether they are deckhands, engineers or captains,

A Fair Work Commission hearing into the dismissal case is scheduled for December.

Mr Noes said Svitzer would continue to provide “well-paying and highly valued” maritime jobs, but was “only looking to make the common-sense changes that are necessary for Svitzer to operate and compete effectively and, in turn, protect jobs”.

“We sincerely regret the hardship and disruption this lockdown presents to our customers and other supply chain stakeholders, including ultimately every Australian consumer.”

More soon.