Freo port lockout averted

A truce reached at Fremantle Port has averted a lock-out of workers by a terminal operator, while another strike looms on the Esperance waterfront.

DP World Australia and the Maritime Union of Australia made a joint announcement late yesterday they would cease further actions and return to the negotiating table.

The move followed DP World threatening to sub-contract vessel servicing to rival Patrick in response to a planned four-hour stoppage at Fremantle today.

The joint statement said work would resume at DP World's terminal when the workers meeting ended at 4pm.

"We are confident that we will reach an agreement in coming weeks," it said.

The union had earlier described as an extraordinary overreaction DP World's decision to stop operating the Fremantle terminal indefinitely.

The MUA had told the company its planned stoppage over enterprise bargaining talks had been limited to minimise the impact on DP World's clients.

The multinational said with a union notice of further roll- ing bans, its shutdown plan had been to provide certainty for customers.

DP World said it had been seeking greater workforce flexibility in the wake of losing a major Japanese shipping contract in Fremantle to Patrick.

In Esperance, 76 port employees are set to stop work for 24 hours next Wednesday over stalled EBA talks.

The move would hold up about $35 million in cargo at the port, a key conduit for iron ore.

Esperance Ports Sea and Land chief executive Brad Williamson expressed disappointment the MUA had not accepted the offer of 4 per cent annual pay rises.

Union organiser Jeff Cassar said EPSL had gone back on a deal this month in which the union largely agreed to those increases. He blamed the State Government.

In the Pilbara, Mermaid Marine Australia is bracing for a 10-day strike at its Dampier supply base, while Programmed yesterday warned shareholders the risk of industrial action by offshore workers remained.

The West Australian

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