Patrick industrial dispute referred to Fair Work Australia

Asciano's long and costly industrial dispute with waterfront workers has been referred to the workplace watchdog to break the deadlock.

The ports and rail operator's Patrick business has been in negotiations with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) over a new enterprise agreement for 18 months.
Industrial action cost Patrick $15 million during the six months to December 31, and there had potentially been a broader impact across the Australian economy, Asciano said.
More than 60 stoppages and work bans had taken place at Patrick's operations across the country during the dispute, the company said.
"Asciano is responsible for more than 50 per cent of Australia's import/export container freight across our nation's ports, so it is essential that we are able to minimise the impact of any industrial disruption to Australia's farmers, manufacturers and exporters," Patrick Terminals and Logistics director Alistair Field said in a statement.
The matter was taken to Fair Work Australia because the MUA had failed to uphold the principles of good faith bargaining, he said.
"We are disappointed that despite 18 months of negotiations and the in-principle agreement reached with the union last November, the MUA has been dragging its feet and has implemented delaying tactics on various occasions," Field said.
The company won't reveal what is blocking a resolution to the negotiations.
The dispute holds extra interest because of Patrick's central role in the ugly 1998 Australian waterfront dispute.
Field said he was confident the outstanding issues in the enterprise agreement talks could be resolved.
Comment has been sought from the MUA.

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