Maritime Union reached Melbourne agreement

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has reached a deal with the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) in Melbourne for the partial reinstatement of a union member whose employment was terminated in November. The agreement, signed on Friday December 15th, ended a three-week picket line that had blocked the gates and trapped millions of dollars’ worth of cargo on the pier.

VICT had said that it denied employee Richard Lunt access to future work because of details relating to an alleged criminal record and an alleged inability to get security clearance.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) denied that Lunt was ineligible, claiming that he had obtained the required clearance certificate on December 8th.

Under the terms of the December 15th agreement, Lunt might not necessarily need the clearance: Lunt will receive wages, pending the outcome of a court case over his dismissal, but he will not be expected to enter the terminal.

VICT chief executive Anders Dommestrup said that “our employees, who played no part in the illegal picket, will be able to enter our site this afternoon,’’ adding that “we are currently entering the terminal to prepare it for full reopening as soon as possible and we will inform all our customers directly.” VICT is operated by Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), which ITF has claimed operates a global anti-union policy.

The Victoria Supreme Court had twice ordered union members to maintain a minimum distance of 300ft from the docks unless they were working, but the picket continued, with MUA leaders saying on December 14th that they would remain in place despite the order, dealing with any charge of contempt of court as and when it came. VICT has said that it will be pursuing both damages and a contempt of court action against the MUA and individuals involved with the strike.