Waterfront Dispute Essay

3227 Words13 Pages
1. Causes of the Patrick Stevedores Dispute Waterfront reform has remained an issue which the Australian government has attempted to address in order to improve the efficiency of the importing and exporting of products in Australia. In 1998, waterfront reform became recognised as of national significance as Australia witnessed of one of the most influential industrial conflicts in the nation’s history, the Patrick Stevedores Waterfront dispute. This conflict focused on modifying waterfront management, consequently affecting the entire workplace relations system across Australia. The reluctance of both Patrick and the MUA to cooperate in negotiations on a wide range of issues is one of the main causes of the dispute. The main factors influencing the evolution of this dispute are related to wage demands and working conditions (economic/financial), technological, and political matters: Economic/financial In the early 1990’s, productivity and efficiency became a matter of great importance for the Australian Stevedoring firm, Patrick Stevedores. The Company identified that in order to attract ship owners and remain in a competitive position, the firm must reduce expenses (particularly labour costs), improve productivity, and reduce prices. In order to achieve these aims, Chris Corrigan (managing director of Patrick at the time) created redundancies, reduced overtime sanctions for permanent employees, and began hiring more contract employees on a casual basis. Patrick also intended to implement these changes to wage and working conditions because a report by the Productivity Commission found that by cutting manning levels by 50% could dramatically improve productivity[i]. Furthermore, there was no consultation with employees in adjustments made to management policies, which included an operation in Dubai to train non-union workers, and significant company
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