Union announces industrial action against 'Cruise Whitsundays' after breakdown in negotiations

Published: 14 Sep 2023











Workers employed by North Queensland maritime transport company ‘Cruise Whitsundays’, a subsidiary of multinational cruising company Hornblower, will stop work TODAY, 15 September, for 24 hours for Protected Industrial Action after the good-faith bargaining process between the employer and the workforce was ended by company representatives.


Cruise Whitsundays – which is understood to be being prepared for sale by the parent company – is a major transport supplier for Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays region and the largest marine tourism company in Airlie Beach.


Amidst a spiralling cost of living and inflation crisis, the company’s HR representatives have pursued what amount to significant wage cuts for a workforce which already receives below-market rates of pay compared to direct competitors performing similar work in the Whitsundays region.


At the commencement of negotiations, the Union and its members sought pay parity with other operators doing the same or similar runs and charters, but Cruise Whitsundays have refused to participate in further bargaining meetings with the Union and have even declined to engage in bargaining meetings assisted by the Fair Work Commission.


“This is a profitable company being fattened up for market by a global shipping outfit that doesn’t want to give its Australian workforce a fair-go,” said MUA Queensland Branch Secretary Jason Miners. “The company’s reputation was built on the hard work of a workforce that delivers a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the most beautiful part of the world, but the crews are being paid barely more than the legal minimum wages while the company generates exorbitant profits greater than any of their five other businesses combined!” Mr Miners said. 


The company put forward a draft agreement that included a 3% wage increase for 2023, below inflation, and a 0% wage increase for 2024 – this ridiculous proposal was rejected by 87.4% of staff at a recent ballot.


The 24 hour work stoppage that will occur from 6am this morning, Friday 15 September, will be backed up by further industrial action including the wearing of campaign t-shirts, additional work stoppages from the 20th of September (up to 7 days total stoppage) and work bans on charging passengers for alcohol or cleaning vessels.


“Cruise Whitsundays are ripping off their workers and conducting themselves disgracefully throughout this bargaining process. They claim to pay “above Award rates”, but in many cases identified by the Union this is just 1 cent per hour above the legal minimum, which demonstrates the shamefully cynical attitude that underpins this company,” Mr Miners said.


“It’s high time the workers at Cruise Whitsundays caught up with their peers, kept up with the rising cost of living, and were paid a fair amount for the hard work they do, but this company now wants to sink negotiations by refusing to meet with us at the bargaining table,” Miners added.


In addition to the breakdown in negotiations caused by Cruise Whitsunday’s refusal to meet, the MUA is also in the process of lodging proceedings for breaches of the current employment agreement and crew underpayments that amount to multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.





Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney