Maritime union to face court over alleged unlawful industrial action

28 April 2011

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched two separate prosecutions against the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) over alleged unlawful industrial action at Fremantle and Broome, in Western Australia.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking action in the Federal Court in Perth against the MUA and two WA branch officials, Chris Cain (secretary) and William Tracey (assistant secretary).

The first case relates to alleged unlawful industrial action by 113 employees of marine terminal operator DP World at the Fremantle port in May, 2009.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims the MUA, Mr Cain and Mr Tracey organised and / or were involved in the employees going on strike for about 24 hours from the afternoon of May 19.

It is alleged Mr Tracey had met with DP World managers five days earlier to discuss possible redundancies and had told them: "If we can't come to an agreement on the redundancies, there'll be industrial action".

The second case relates to an alleged unlawful strike by 15 employees of the Broome Port Authority in March, 2010.

Similarly, it is alleged the MUA and Mr Tracey organised and / or were involved in the employees going on strike for about 24 hours from the afternoon of March 30.

In documents filed with the Federal Court, Mr Tracey allegedly told the Broome Port Authority chief executive the reason for the strike was "disrespect".

The documents claim that before the industrial action, Mr Tracey had threatened to "bring the port to its knees" and was involved in distributing flyers bearing the MUA logo that accused the Broome Port Authority of showing disrespect to its workforce.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the industrial action in both Fremantle and Broome was allegedly unlawful because it occurred before collective agreements had expired.

Mr Campbell says the decision to prosecute was made because workplace laws regarding how industrial action can be lawfully conducted were allegedly not adhered to.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims the MUA and Mr Tracey committed two breaches of workplace laws and that Mr Cain committed one contravention. The MUA faces a maximum penalty of $33,000 per breach and Mr Tracey and Mr Cain face maximum fines of $6600 per breach.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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