MUA Press release: DP World aggressively escalates waterfront dispute in an attack on workers’ rights

Published: 21 Jan 2020

Wharfies employed at DP World in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle have had approved leave cancelled by the huge global stevedoring operator, with the maritime union describing the move as an unlawful and aggressive attack on workers’ rights.

Dubai-based DP World Australia, which is the largest stevedore in Australia employing more than 1800 waterfront workers, notified workers that previously approved leave had been cancelled immediately, leaving workers unable to fulfil family obligations.
The company also banned workers from meeting with union representatives on company property, kicking union officials out of car-parks where they were waiting to meet members during work breaks.

The Maritime Union of Australia said workers were outraged by the unlawful attacks, saying the aggressive escalation was aimed at bullying workers into accepting management’s demands in a new workplace agreement.

“To strip wharfies of their approved leave at this time of year, when many had arranged approved leave to care for their kids or take family holidays, is an extraordinary attack on their own workforce by DP World,” MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said.
“The timing, in the middle of the summer school holidays, has clearly been chosen to cause maximum hardship for workers. All the company is doing though is solidifying the unity and resolve of wharfies nationally to stand up and fight back until they win their just demands off this global giant.”

Mr Smith said during this period of negotiation DP World had sought to intimidate workers using workers’ family and social benefits such as Income Protection, we’ve seen dockings, actual sackings, threats of mass sackings, leave cancelled, attacks on democratic rights, and cancellation of Christmas bonuses.
“This ‘take it or leave it’ stuff might work for DP World elsewhere in their global operations, but wharfies will fight hard to defend against the threats and intimidation of this multinational stevedore,” he said.

“Rather than backing down, workers will be responding to this latest attack with a fresh round of industrial action, including strikes, rolling stoppages during each shift, and the imposition of a range of work bans.

“MUA members are standing firm in their desire to finalise a new workplace agreement, but it must be one that addresses the deeply important job security issue, as well as locking in vital workplace conditions but that can’t occur while DP World management remains intent on launching aggressive attacks on Australian wharfies.”


Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney