Newcastle wharfies impose work bans

MARITIME workers at Qube’s Newcastle premises will run industrial action for two weeks from midnight, the Maritime Union of Australia says. 

Staff at the Kooragang Island facility will work only seven hour shifts with no extensions or overtime for the fortnight. 

MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams said workers were frustrated and alleged some staff had been offered permanent positions if they took a 10.5 per cent wage cut. 

“What Australian household can afford to cop a 10.5% cut to their earnings, let alone absorb reductions to their superannuation and other work conditions?” Mr Williams said.

Comment has been sought from Qube Ports, whose services include handling export containers and dangerous goods. 

The Qube site on Kooragang Island. Picture: Google Maps

The Qube site on Kooragang Island. Picture: Google Maps

A Qube spokesman said the enterprise agreement in Newcastle expired in 2015, sparking two years of negotiations with staff.

“The Newcastle business is currently commercially unviable and the company is seeking a reduction in pay rates as part of ongoing attempts to allow operations to continue,” he said.

“The pay offer will bring Qube into line with its main competitor Newcastle Stevedores which has lower pay scales agreed with the MUA a couple of years ago.”

Roughly 30 permanent and part-time staff are affected by the award negotiations.