Activities at the Port of Newcastle will grind to a halt this morning as tug boat operators go on strike.
Three unions representing captains, crew and engineers working for maritime giant Svitzer are at loggerheads with management as they try to negotiate a new enterprise agreement.
The stoush has spanned the better part of three years following the expiration of the most recent contract in December 2019.
Svitzer now appears to have taken steps at the Fair Work Commission to terminate the agreement at every Australian mainland port, which would force workers onto the Marime Towage Award.
According to the unions this would effectively strip back working conditions, increase overtime and cut pay in half.
“Slashing our members’ pay by up to 50% will destroy the livelihoods of these workers,” Australian Maritime Officers’ Union Executive Officer, Mark Davis said.
About a hundred Newcastle-based staff will stop work for four hours from 11am today for a meeting with their unions and ACTU Secretary Sally McManus.
Its expected to cause havoc in Newcastle Harbour with Svitzer the only tug boat provider operating locally.
The company has been contacted for comment.