The Guardian February 23, 2000


Breakthrough for Adsteam tug crew

Industrial action by tug crew has forced Adsteam to suspend plans to 
commence compulsory redundancies this week and hold discussions with the 
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). Last Thursday tug crew from Port Kembla, 
Newcastle, Port Botany and Sydney Harbour marched on employer Adsteam's 
offices in Sydney to protest against the company's refusal to abide by a 
NSW Waterways decision that harbour tugs require two deckhands to operate 
safely.

The action was part of a 24-hour strike by tug crew, members of the MUA.

MUA tug crew in Western Australia were on strike when Adsteam made its 
offer on Monday this week.

At issue is Adsteam's plan to sack half the nation's harbour tug crew, 
claiming only one deckhand is necessary on each vessel. The engineer would 
then be expected to fill in on deckhand duty.

In a landmark decision last week, the NSW Waterways authority agreed with 
the union that the two deckhands were necessary for safe operations in the 
State's harbours. In doing so the authority has rejected outright a company 
application to reduce the crew.

Adsteam's refusal to abide by the NSW Waterways decision followed a mailout 
of voluntary redundancy offers to all deckhands. The company threatened to 
begin compulsory retrenchments if it did not get a big enough response to 
the offer.

The MUA said the company was attempting to rush members into taking 
voluntary redundancies, with the threat of sackings hanging over them.

"Adsteam have not allowed for adequate consultation", said MUA Assistant 
National Secretary Mick Doleman. "They have not given people time for legal 
and financial council."

As well as suspending compulsory redundancies, Adsteam has now agreed to 
seek no further voluntary redundancies if the MUA ceases its industrial 
action.

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