Tugboat Lockout Could Jeopardise Australian Ports

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As of midday local time on November 18, Svitzer will no longer allow striking workers access to Australian ports that export coal, grains, iron ore, and other minerals. This disruption will prevent equipment from being shipped to the nation’s resources and energy projects.

The move to overseas waters follows two years of industrial action by Australian maritime unions over pay and conditions. The Maritime Union of Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, and the Australian Maritime Officer Union have all been involved in the dispute.

Michael Jovicic, chief executive of Patrick, said that Svitzer’s lockout would disrupt the handling of 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers coming into its terminals each day. This is approximately 40% percent of containerized freight being transported into and out Australia daily.

Industrial action that prevents vessels arriving and departing our terminals will quickly bring our terminals to a standstill,” Mr Jovicic commented.

We strongly urge for the two parties to come to a sensible and sustainable resolution that supports the needs of the Australian economy.”

Employees will not be able to access the grain and coal port in Brisbane, Queensland, where work stoppages occurred on November 12th and 13th. However, the key Queensland coal ports, including Hay Point, Dalrymple Bay, Abbot Point, and Gladstone, remain accessible.

Around 1.5 million tons of wheat, oil seeds, lupins, and barley will be exported from Western Australia over the next year. Still, the lockout will disrupt shipments from the WA ports of Geraldton, Kwinana, Albany, and Esperance.

Geraldton and Esperance are also responsible for shipping iron ore, minerals, and fertilisers. In the year leading up to June 30, 2022, Geraldton will have shipped 16.4 million tons of commodities.

On November 17, industrial action in Albany, Kwinana, and Geraldton will occur before the lockdown. The Pilbara iron ore, mineral, and LNG ports are not having any issues with the dispute.

The ports of Adelaide and Port Pirie in South Australia, Melbourne and Westernport in Victoria, Eden and Sydney in NSW, as well as Far North Queensland in Queensland, will be impacted by the lockout – most notably mineral exports from many of these locations, with grains being exported from some.
Svitzer employs over 1,000 people in Australia, including 500+ seafarers who complete 40,000 harbour tug jobs annually.

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