Australian port strike stopped after two positive cases of COVID-19 were detected

The union-led strike at the Port of Melbourne was canceled after two COVID-19 incidents isolated more than 100 workers and had a significant impact on their operations.

Two employees at Patrick Terminal, a container terminal operator, tested positive for COVID-19 and had 109 workers, just as the Australian Maritime Union (MUA) launched a series of strikes. Forced into a self-quarantine period of days.

The MUA was scheduled to hold a 12-hour strike every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout October after negotiations with Patrick Terminals on wages broke down.

On Wednesday morning, Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovicic urged the MUA to withdraw its industrial activities so that operations could be restored during this “crisis.”

“Currently, 32% of Melbourne’s employees are unable to attend work and need to be quarantined for 14 days,” said Jovicic. “This is not the time to hold the Melbourne terminal as a ransom when so many importers and exporters rely on our services to move their cargo.”

In response, MUA has agreed to temporarily suspend industrial activities at the Port of Melbourne.

“In good faith, MUA and its members have ceased industrial activity at the Port of Melbourne until further notice, as the number of available workers has decreased as a result of some workers being quarantined. “MUA’s assistant Secretary of State Jamie Newlin told the Epoch Times in a statement.

However, the union is calling on Patrick to return to negotiations and resolve wage disputes so that everyone can return to work.

“The MUA recognizes the need to take action to keep the port operating due to the effects of COVID, but the union returns to Patrick’s negotiating table on the issue of the unresolved corporate agreement. I asked him to talk twice, “said Newlin. ..

Epoch Times Photo
Patrick Terminal in Port Botany, Sydney, Australia. Workers across Australia are currently in a labor dispute over wage disputes, causing delays before Christmas. (Included)

The first COVID-19 case at the Port of Melbourne was discovered on Friday, isolating close contact with 22 people. A second positive case was found on Tuesday, forcing an additional 87 close contacts to be isolated.

Patrick expects the delay to increase exponentially at the Melbourne terminal, where the vessel is already moored up to four days behind schedule. Also, I don’t have the ability to subcontract at least next week.

Meanwhile, farmers in Western Australia are angry that a MUA-led port strike in Perth delayed the delivery of the critical machinery needed to harvest the expected record crop season. ..

“We are collateral damage to this,” said Tony Seabrook, President of the Herders and Pasture Association. Said ABC. “There is no consideration of how their actions will affect the year when there is a record harvest and these machines are in desperate need.”

MUA strikes continue in other cities across Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Rebecca Chu