AMMA has called on Australia’s workplace regulators and the Australian Government to stand up for employers and the wider community following coordinated industrial action which stifled trade at one the country’s business ports last week.
Hundreds of stevedores walked off the job last Wednesday (May 9), shutting down Port of Melbourne in a move described by AMMA as “irresponsible, damaging and reckless”.
The waterfront waters took the unprotected industrial action to join the ACTU’s “Change the Rules” rally that disrupted the city’s CBD, and was also in support of construction union bosses facing blackmail charges over their role in the 2013 Grocon dispute.
It came shortly after the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union received the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) approval to merge with the Maritime Union of Australia and create the CFMMEU.
AMMA’s appeal against the Fair Work Commission’s approval of the CFMMEU merger is currently being considered by a Full Bench of the Commission.
“AMMA does not accept that recklessly threatening economic growth, trade and investment in Australia should be standard practice for this new super-militant union,” Steve Knott, AMMA Chief Executive, said.
“This is why we are continuing to appeal its approval in the national interest.”
In an article in the Weekend Australian, AMMA called on the Coalition and the Fair Work Ombudsman to respond to the rally, which contravened workplace laws.
“We haven’t heard a whisper from those tasked with upholding Australia’s laws condemning the unions inciting this action,’’ Mr Knott told the Weekend Australian.
“If the Fair Work Ombudsman with its $188 million budget and 736 staff wasn’t asleep at the wheel, individuals engaging in such illegal action would have been well aware they could face fines up to $12,600.”
Mr Knott said the “silence is also deafening from the government, which is yet to publicly condemn the illegal industrial action”.
“If the regulators and government won’t even condemn unprotected industrial action that heavily impacts services and businesses in one of our biggest cities, what chance is there of them taking action to deter it in the future?” he said.
“With the ACTU saying this rally is the first of many, we have to question if the new industrial environment is one where employees can strike at any time on any matter.” He said the “speak-no-evil approach from those charged with upholding the law will have consequences.
“When the likes of left-wing ACTU and newly formed CFMMEU bosses determine which laws in this country need to be followed or broken, we know what prevails: anarchy.’’
Mr Knott said the industrial action outlined how the coordination of the CFMMEU’s construction and maritime divisions can have immediate and damaging impacts on the economy, the community and our international reputation as a reliable place to invest and do business.
“Australia’s ports are the gates to our economy, aiding everything from large-scale commodity exports to trade for small and medium businesses,” he said.
“They are also critical to individual members of the public accessing household products and essential medical supplies.
“It is extremely disappointing that just as the Australian economy is starting to turn a corner – allowing our federal parliamentarians to debate how best to allocate strong national revenues – the new super-militant union chooses to threaten this growth by slamming shut the gates to our trade.
“This is exactly the type of damaging, coordinated law-breaking that AMMA has warned of repeatedly in our FWC proceedings appealing the creation of this super-militant union. It’s a stark reality check for anyone who believed the unions’ assurances that it would not lead to this type of coordinated industrial action.”
For a copy of AMMA’s media response to last week’s unprotected industrial action, click here.