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Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 4:02pm

The Australian Mines and Metals Association has objected to a proposed rule change by the MUA that would extend its coverage to a wider range of occupations within port authorities.

AMMA’s director workplace relations, Amanda Mansini, said today the MUA’s move risked creating demarcation disputes and industrial unrest on ports and major resource projects.

AMMA has asked the Fair Work Commission not to entertain an application by the MUA to change its eligibility rules to target employees at stevedoring and logistics operations historically covered by other unions.

“This has been widely viewed as a desperate move by the MUA to win existing unionised members at the cost of its co-unions and well-established demarcation agreements,” Mansini said.

“Our members in the maritime, stevedoring, oil and gas, mining and logistics sectors are united that the MUA’s attempt to expand its influence in these areas would not be in the public interest.

“The union cannot seriously argue, given its history of militancy and law-breaking, that it is better placed to represent employees of these operations than the longstanding unions in these sectors.”

AMMA has officially filed a notice of objection with the Commission on the changes.

The AMMA arguments are strongly supported by the industry group, Ports Australia.

“Australia’s ports are most concerned that the MUA’s foray into the historic territory of other unions will have a significant destabilising impact on critical trades and our workplaces,” said Ports Australia CEO David Anderson.

AMMA has argued that the MUA has applied scant detail in its application for the rule changes.

However, it argues that granting the rules changes would:

  • have a direct impact on employers, through disruption to current ways of working (dealing with the MUA in more instances including bargaining, right of entry and other matters where other unions already have coverage);
  • have a direct impact on employees, through likely demarcation disputes between union members, which in turn would disrupt current ways of working; and
  • increase the risks in the planned merger of the MUA with the CFMEU, allowing the new entity the means to exercise unparalleled control of the resources supply chain.

Comment is being sought from the MUA regarding the AMMA objections, which refer to a 1995 decision by the former Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Stability “disrupted”: AIMPE

If the change proceeds, the MUA would be able to represent port authorities’ maintenance technicians, marine pilots, pilot cutter officers and signal station officers.The first classification is covered by the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE), while the other three are the territory of the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) (see Related Article).

The AIMPE says the proposal would “disrupt” the stability that has prevailed for a quarter of a century on port authority vessels.

AIMPE federal secretary Martin Byrne says the great majority of his members work on vessels of all types, including port authority vessels.

“But with privatisations and corporatisation some of these are now no longer public authorities,” he recently told Workplace Express.

Byrne said that AIMPE would lodge an objection to the proposed MUA rule change “insofar as it seeks to alter the outcome of the Port Authorities Demarcation Order of 1993”.

According to AMOU national president Tim Higgs, “the AMOU and its predecessor unions have always represented marine pilots and officers”.

“Dating back to 1905, the issue of representation has been very clear and uncontroversial.

“The three maritime unions have a working relationship that is solid and stable. The MUA appears to be seeking to undermine that relationship.”

Last month, industry peak body Maritime Industry Australia Limited (MIAL) told Workplace Express it was “still working with stakeholders to confirm whether the MUA’s stated intentions are achieved with their proposed wording and will resist any efforts by the MUA to expand membership in a manner that is likely to disrupt business and commercial interests, which is certainly a risk with a demarcation dispute”.

MUA Application

Coverage from Workplace Express