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WA Government must put an end to irresponsible port strike

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The Western Australian Government must step up and seek to put an end to the CFMMEU’s prolonged and irresponsible strike action at Fremantle Port, says Australian Resources and Energy Group AREEA.

After three months of ongoing strikes, AREEA is highly concerned that major international shipping companies are now forced to bypass Fremantle Port and freight critical mining, resources and agricultural supplies by road and rail into Western Australia.

“Employers in Australia’s resources and farming sectors are doing their best to keep their businesses and the economy afloat during this pandemic, the last thing they need is an act of industrial bastardry delaying the delivery of critical plant and equipment,” Steve Knott AM, AREEA Chief Executive, said.

“It’s highly irresponsible for the CFMMEU to block the unloading of large international cargo carriers at Fremantle Port at a time when interstate movement of freight is difficult, costly and a proven risk of introducing COVID-19 into virus-free regions.

“During the pandemic, Western Australia’s border and quarantine resources should be freed-up as much as possible to process essential freight and people returning or travelling to the state, often for compassionate reasons.

“With the Western Australian Government set to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all resources sector workers – an initiative AREEA supports and welcomes – it beggars belief the state would wash its hands of this industrial dispute and put all responsibility on the Commonwealth.

“This is a serious state issue. By stopping all work at Fremantle Port, the CFMMEU is not only damaging WA’s revenue-generating industries, but also creating new potential COVID-19 entry points at a time the government is taking all measures to keep the virus out.

“Premier Mark McGowan must write to the President of the Fair Work Commission seeking, as per section 423 of the Fair Work Act, to put a stop to the industrial action on the basis that it is causing significant economic harm.”

In 2018, AREEA highlighted the merger of the Maritime Union of Australia with the CFMEU’s construction division would embolden more militancy by two strike-prone and recidivist law-breaking unions. Sadly, with riots by construction industry workers in Victoria in recent weeks and MUA strikes in ports around Australia, it did not take long for this to come to fruition.

“The Fremantle dispute is in protest of Qube’s proposed new enterprise agreement that offers a 10% pay increase on top of $140,000 average salaries and 18 weeks of leave each year,” Mr Knott said.

“Qube employees elsewhere in Australia have accepted that this is a good deal whilst in the middle of a global pandemic. However, the CFMMEU’s WA Maritime Division instead slapped 66 additional claims on the company and is now involving businesses and employees not directly involved in this dispute.

“The union is clearly more intent on winning a militancy chest-beating competition with its Victorian construction cousins than reaching a reasonable enterprise agreement for its members. No wonder the mining division of the CFMMEU is seeking to divorce itself from this rabble.

“It is time for the Western Australian Government to stand up for its resources, energy and farming employers, as well as the broader interests of its citizens, and seek to put an end to this damaging strike.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Brad Thompson, 0409 781 580

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