Prolonged port stalemate impacting vital industries

Three months of ongoing strikes at the Fremantle Port are reportedly forcing major international shipping companies to bypass the Western Australian port and ship critical mining, resources and agricultural supplies by road and rail from the eastern states.

There’s speculation that in addition to the major headaches this is causing WA industries, the strike action is also putting added pressure on the already over-stretched road freight industry to deliver goods from the other side of the country that should have been imported directly into WA via the Fremantle Port.

The Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) has called on the Western Australian Government to step up and seek to put an end to what it described as “prolonged and irresponsible” strike action at Fremantle Port.

“Employers in Australia’s resources and farming sectors are doing their best to keep their businesses and the economy afloat during this pandemic,” said AMMA Chief Executive Steve Knott AM.

“The last thing they need is an act of industrial bastardry delaying the delivery of critical plant and equipment.”

Knott said it was highly irresponsible for the union to block the unloading of large international cargo carriers at Fremantle Port at a time when interstate movement of freight is difficult, costly and a proven risk of introducing COVID-19 into virus-free regions.

“During the pandemic, Western Australia’s border and quarantine resources should be freed-up as much as possible to process essential freight and people returning or travelling to the state, often for compassionate reasons,” Knott said.

“With the Western Australian Government set to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all resources sector workers – an initiative AMMA supports and welcomes – it beggars belief that the state would wash its hands of this industrial dispute and put all responsibility on the Commonwealth.”

According to Knott, the Fremantle dispute is in protest of Qube’s proposed new enterprise agreement that offers a 10 per cent pay increase on top of $140,000 average salaries and 18 weeks of leave each year.

“Qube employees elsewhere in Australia have accepted that this is a good deal whilst in the middle of a global pandemic,” said Knott.

“The union is clearly more intent on winning a militancy chest-beating competition with its Victorian construction cousins than reaching a reasonable enterprise agreement for its members.

“It is time for the Western Australian Government to stand up for its resources, energy and farming employers, as well as the broader interests of its citizens, and seek to put an end to this damaging strike.”

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