ITF: ‘We Will Fight HPH’
The International Transport Workers’ Federation has challenged Hutchinson Port Holdings (HPH) over Australian and Indonesian worker treatment, stating they are ready to ‘fight’ and are ‘here to stay’.
In Australia, Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) stands accused by the ITF of using automation and forced redundancy to get rid of union members. In Indonesia HPH is aiming to take on a port concession, the award is said to be opaque, rushed and potentially contrary to the national and local interest, according to an ITF press release.
In 2013 HPA started operations in Brisbane and Sydney after a new competition policy introduced a third stevedoring operator in major Australian ports. Both ports were set up with automated stacking cranes (ASCs) and manned shuttles.
HPA has now announced it will be ‘withdrawing from current bids for work in Australia and reviewing the level of services that we will be offering effective immediately.’ Around a hundred workers out of a workforce of 224 face compulsory redundancy.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) contends that the forced redundancy process has been set up to remove union activists and delegates.
ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair Paddy Crumlin said: “My union, the MUA, has received leaked documentation outlining a plan called ‘Phoenix Rising’, which indicates that HPA is secretly planning to introduce automated straddles and automated remote quay cranes.
“This is union busting by automation. It’s totally contrary to the principle of ‘automation by negotiation’. It will be challenged, including legally. In the meantime the MUA has reiterated its offer to HPA to look for a negotiated solution.
“Meanwhile in Indonesia, parent company HPH is unashamedly benefiting from a non-transparent concession award process that is against the interests of existing workers – four of whom were sacked for protesting against it, and only reinstated after the union took strike action.
“Between these three ports a picture is emerging of a blatant disregard of workers and dialogue. This is not the behaviour we expect from HPH. We insist that HPH returns to negotiations and the search for fair and just settlements.”
MUA have devised an eight point set of demands to HPH, completing it with the statement: “We will fight Hutchison Ports Australia until they realise we are WORKERS, we are WHARFIES, we are MUA and we are HERE TO STAY.”