BHP has shown its intention to ask the federal government to prevent tug boat staff from carrying out strike action at the Port Hedland harbour.
The ongoing pay dispute between Teekay Shipping and deckhands on its tugboats looks to soon reach a breaking point, as the Maritime Union of Australia recently indicated the success of a vote to take strike action if EBA negotiations can’t be resolved.
“They are literally holding us to ransom and that is something we have to push back on,” Wilson said.
“It is highly likely that we would ask the government to help in the name of national interest.”
“Industrial action by the MUA will stop all shipments out of the Port and cost exporters like BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group and Atlas Iron about A$100 million a day.
“In addition, the State and Federal Government stand to lose tens of millions of dollars a day in royalties and corporate tax revenue,” he said.
“Mining companies like BHP Billiton will not be able to make up the shipments lost during industrial action, and governments cannot recover the lost royalties and taxes.
“Any interruption to shipments of iron ore would have a detrimental impact on Australia’s international reputation as a stable and reliable supplier of critical resources.”
Wilson said the deckhands, who are paid $137,144 per year, are seeking a 40 per cent pay rise over four years, however earlier reports have stated that the MUA was seeking a 20 per cent pay rise, which was denied by the union.
A statement from Teekay Shipping revealed that the MUA has demanded an increase of no less than 11.9 per cent.
Wilson also said that the deckhands want an additional 6 weeks off per year, however the MUA has said they are seeking 4 weeks leave per year.
“Teekay’s maritime union employees at Port Hedland are already the highest paid in the towage industry in Australia,” Wilson said.
“Their demands are unreasonable and out of touch with the current economic conditions faced by Australian exporters.
“BHP Billiton is actively pursuing the limited options available to the Company under the Fair Work Act to prevent industrial action at Australia’s largest export port.”
SMH reported that disruption to global iron ore supplies may cause a short term increase in price, which has fallen 27 per cent this year.