Dock blockade stops Vic. cargo
Things are getting rough at a union blockade of the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT).
The major shipping terminal has been shut down for two weeks, with tonnes of containers stranded at sea, after Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members walked off the job.
Cargo has been diverted to Adelaide and taken by road to Melbourne, while the VICT seeks a court order to ban the MUA, the CFMEU and Trades Hall Secretary Luke Hilikari from coming within 100 metres of the site.
Trucks have stopped trying to enter after union workers knocked out the teeth of a driver, reports say.
VICT lawyers say the assault of the truck driver occurred on December 2.
But the MUA says the court has not been presented with any evidence of who the driver was.
The issue unfolded after an audit found 22 workers did not have a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC), which gives them access to secure areas.
The union says a worker who took the company to Fair Work had his employment terminated.
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) says Victorians are being held to ransom, and urged the union to follow proper negotiation processes.
“That's exactly why we have a Fair Work Commission,” VTA spokesperson Peter Anderson told reporters.
“That worker in the first instance became ineligible to work on the wharf, so now they're looking for a re-classification of an individual to maintain a work status as a casual.
“There's a bit of inconsistency in what they're looking for, however there's always middle ground in any negotiation.”
The union has indicated that the picketing will continue until the worker has been reinstated.
MSIC clearance is only granted after a worker has been cleared by the AFP and ASIO.
MUA Deputy Secretary Will Tracey says the worker in question had to take extra steps due to a previous conviction.
“VICT management and its supporters made the claim several times that this worker had his appeal for an MSIC rejected, not once but twice,” Mr Tracey told the ABC.
“When the truth is that he has held a two-year MSIC card on several occasions since receiving an assault conviction more than 20 years ago.”
The Victorian Government says it is monitoring the situation.
“The Government has repeatedly offered to bring the parties together to help them resolve this dispute — including an offer to bring in Industrial Relations Victoria as a mediator — and that offer remains open,” a government spokesperson said.
“The matter will be heard by the Fair Work Commission tomorrow and we are hopeful this will bring an end to the dispute.”