Svitzer Tugs – Protected Industrial Action

Tug masters employed by Svitzer Australia (represented by the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU)) are undertaking extensive Protected Industrial Action (PIA) across many ports in Australia.

These strike actions are impacting on vessel arrivals and departures in Port Botany, Brisbane and Fremantle. 

The current notified PIAs in Australian container ports are:

Port Botany:

  • 48-hour stoppage from 00:01 on 17 February to 00:01 on 19 February
  • 48-hour stoppage from 00:01 on 22 to 00:01 on 24 February

Brisbane:

  • 48-hour stoppage from 0600 on 17 February to 0600 on 19 February
  • 72-hour stoppage from 0600 on 22 February to 0600 on 25 February

Fremantle:

  • 48-hour stoppage from 0700 on 24 February to 0700 on 26 February
  • 48-hour stoppage from 0700 on 3 March to 0700 on 5 March
  • A ban on employees performing recall and relief work during a period of leave for an unlimited duration from 0700 on 18 February

As a result of these strike actions, berthing delays in the impacted ports will deteriorate even further from the current delays caused by significant vessel off-window arrivals, vessel bunching, COVID-related labour absenteeism in container terminals, and other factors.

A Svitzer Tug – Fleetmon

Container terminals are already informing landside stakeholders of changes to scheduled vessel arrivals impacting on projected import container availability dates, and export receival timeframes. 

Some shipping lines have also notified vessel port rotations to try to avoid the worst of the berthing delays.

It is understood that Svitzer has applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for the Protected Industrial Action (PIA) to be suspended or terminated on economic grounds.  A hearing on the matter in the FWC in Sydney is set down for 10am tomorrow (Friday, 18 February 2022).

The background to the dispute is that Svitzer has been negotiating with the three maritime unions with coverage in the tug sector on the terms of a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) since before the existing EA lapsed in 2019.

Then, in January this year, Svitzer applied to the FWC for the existing EA to be terminated, which if endorsed by the FWC would result in the pay and conditions of employees reverting to those contained in the Marine Towage Award 2020.

This page will be updated accordingly.