Australia's PM, Scott Morrison, has accused maritime workers of “extortionate” pay claims, demanding their union ditch industrial action or face federal intervention, refusing to rule out sending in the military if required.
Morrison told reporters in Canberra “we cannot have the militant end of the union movement effectively engaging in a campaign of extortion against the Australian people in the middle of a Covid-19 recession”. “This is just extraordinary, appalling behaviour.” Morrison called on the Australian Council of Trade Unions to distance itself from the MUA.
The health minister, Greg Hunt, said the medicines shortage working group of the Therapy Goods Administration has reported delays. The union says it offered to help prioritise ships carrying medical supplies
The Maritime Union of Australia has accused Patrick Terminals and the government of a “hysterical” response, noting it has already moderated its claims from a 6% pay rise for three years down to below 2.5%.
The union has rejected the claim 40 ships are waiting to be unloaded. MUA Sydney branch secretary, Paul McAleer said the union is “not holding the country to ransom”. “There are not dozens of vessels off the New South Wales coast. There are a couple of vessels waiting to come into Sydney and they will come alongside when the vessels leave. There aren’t 90,000 containers waiting to come. There are no extensive delays. And what we are seeing is just small delays.”