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Industrial conflict strikes docks in NSW and -

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TONY EASTLEY: In an extraordinary operation, a stevedoring company has locked out its workers and
used a helicopter to fly in non union labour to unload ships at Port Kembla in New South Wales.

And in an escalation of industrial strife, wharfies say the stevedoring company POAGS has locked
out workers from ports in Fremantle and Bunbury in Western Australia.

The company says Maritime Union work bans have crippled parts of its business.

Emily Bourke reports.

EMILY BOURKE: Helicopters ferried non-union workers into the dock at Port Kembla yesterday as a
bitter industrial over fight wages and conditions escalated.

The Maritime Union's Garry Keane says the company has put safety on the line.

GARRY KEANE: We've had something like six deaths in the last five years on the waterfront. And the
safety issue has been a big part of our negotiations.

Now to bypass all of that, to fly people into an area, give them a 20 minute induction before going
into an area where people have died in. This isn't... You know, this isn't a play land. This is
serious industrial areas.

EMILY BOURKE: In the west hundreds of workers at the Bunbury and Fremantle docks remain locked out.

In a statement POAGS managing director says the strikes and work bans are totally unjustified and
have stalled negotiations.

The MUA's (Maritime Union of Australia) assistant national secretary Warren Smith says this dispute
has some similarities with the 1998 waterfront conflict.

WARREN SMITH: I mean, I don't think this is the sort of thing that involves that same sort of
government conspiratorial sort of activity that was the hallmarks of 1998.

EMILY BOURKE: But to bring in labour?

WARREN SMITH: But- oh, you know, in many respects there's some similarities as well. I mean, it's
the same sort of brutal sort of tactic to replace people's jobs and get rid of whole workforces who
are only seeking a just outcome around claims that affect their livelihoods.

EMILY BOURKE: How do you think this is going to play out?

WARREN SMITH: Well, that remains hard to see. We're still, you know, very determined to sit down
and negotiate an agreement and get an outcome.

EMILY BOURKE: POAGS says the MUA's indefinite industrial action has made part of the businesses
unviable and that POAGS management and subcontractors are working where possible to minimise the
disruption to customers.

The MUA's Warren Smith dismisses suggestions the company is being driven by productivity.

WARREN SMITH: Yeah, well if POAGS, I would think, were worried about productivity they wouldn't be
locking people out so there was absolutely no productivity. It's a strange position.

The whole question of productivity in bulk and general stevedoring is a bit of a myth. I mean, bulk
and general stevedoring is intensely productive. They- workers in the bulk and general only find
out they're going to work or at what time at 5 o'clock the night before. So we're talking
incredible flexibility measures and incredible productivity outcomes that the employers have
achieved.

So bans on curtailing, in some respect, the start times are hardly the end of the world for a
company and this is an incredibly disproportionate response to really what was a very light set of
industrial action in pursuit of claims by the workforce.

EMILY BOURKE: POAGS employs more than 1600 people at 28 ports around Australia. It's called on the
MUA to end its industrial action so that negotiations can start again.

TONY EASTLEY: Emily Bourke.