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Maritime union offers peace deal ahead of Fair Work Commission

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Patrick Terminals is arguing the dispute should end because it is causing significant economic damage, but the union says workers should be paid fairly.

A peace offering has been put on the table by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) in their long-running pay dispute with Patrick Terminals, just hours before the issue is due to go in front of the Fair Work Commission.

It's hoped the move will end the nationwide port stand-off and free up the backlog of containers waiting to get into ports.

The union was seeking a 2.5 per cent pay increase, down from the original six per cent they had been asking for, over four years.

It now says they are happy with the existing agreement for the next 12 months, but they will push for the 2.5 per cent increase later.

The case will go before the Fair Work Commission at 10am.

The union is locked in a battle with stevedores Patrick Terminals, which claims there are now 100,000 containers caught up in the nationwide industrial dispute.

Patrick says by Friday, Sydney will be three weeks behind schedule, Melbourne 11 days behind, Brisbane nine and Freemantle three.

The backlog has prompted fears vital medical supplies are on board and are being delayed, a claim the MUA has vehemently denied.

But the Federal Government says that is simply untrue, with Scott Morrison calling the union action "straight out extortion".

The rolling work bans – which are legal – are running from day-long to hour-long stoppages, and Patrick Terminals is arguing the dispute should end because it is causing significant economic damage.

Yesterday Mr Morrison slammed the union's move in the midst of a global pandemic.

READ:  Store owner crams 12,000 plants into home amid coronavirus

"We cannot have the militant end of the union movement effectively engaging in a campaign of extortion against the Australian people in the middle of a COVID-19 recession," Mr Morrison said.

"This is just extraordinary, appalling behaviour. That is just straight-out extortion."

The union rejected suggestions of delays, saying "we are not holding the country to ransom".

"We went to Patricks (Patrick Terminals) and said that we would exempt any fresh produce," the MUA's Paul McAleer said.

"We have also exempted all of the refrigerated containers which have a great deal of the produce in them. 

"There is no industrial action against any of those containers whatsoever and the idea that we are hurting farmers is ridiculous."

Source: 9News

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