SMIT Strike in Gladstone

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on June 18, 2012 at 2:40 AM

Workers for SMIT Marine Australia, which provides pilot and towing services to coal ships at Gladstone port in Australia, have voted in favor of industrial action, though unions have yet to notify the company of any pending strikes, a spokesman for SMIT Marine said Friday.

The maritime services company has been in talks with its employees who belong to three trades unions representing ships' masters, engineers and general maritime workers over the details of a new collective workplace agreement since October last year. "At this stage, we are still in negotiations with the unions. We cannot say anything about the process and at this stage we have not received any notification of industrial action," SMIT Marine Australia general manager, Frederik Rutgers said Friday.

SMIT Marine provides a range of maritime services at Gladstone port including tugs for towing vessels into port to load coal exports, according to Rutgers.

The three unions are understood to have lodged a claim with SMIT Marine for a 37.5% pay rise for the company's tug masters and engineers followed by an annual pay increase of 8%, according to market sources. Members of the three trade unions involved in the dispute, the Australian Maritime Officers' Union representing ships' masters, Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, Maritime Union of Australia voted by a considerable margin for industrial action lasting for up to seven days at a time, according to the website of Fair Work Australia. SMIT employees belonging to the MUA voted by 14 to zero for work stoppages lasting for up to 24 hours, and all four AMOU affiliated employees were in favor of strikes lasting for up to seven days. While AIMPE members voted 11-3 for work stoppages lasting 24 hours and seven days, according to the results of the votes on FWA's website on June 13.

Gladstone Ports Corporation said through a spokeswoman Friday that the port authority had not been advised of any industrial action by employees of SMIT Marine at this point in time. "Our intent would be for Gladstone Ports Corp. to schedule around the action if it arises to minimize any impacts," said the port authority's spokeswoman in an emailed response to questions. Gladstone port ships thermal and coking coal for a number of companies with mines in the Bowen Basin coal field in central Queensland including, BHP Billiton (Blackwater), Cockatoo Coal (Baralaba), Jellinbah Group, Wesfarmers (Curragh), Xstrata (Rolleston) and Yancoal (Yarrabee). The Queensland port loaded 54.6 million mt of coal for export onto 610 vessels in the 11-month period ended May 2012, according to information on GPC's website. Source: Platts

Categories: Australian news

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