A two-day strike due to start today has been suspended after the Fair Work Commission yesterday issued an interim order against the Maritime Union of Australia.
About 100 cooks, cleaners and deckhands employed by marine contractor Tidewater were due to walk off the job on 22 projects at 4am today over a pay dispute.
FWC commissioner Danny Cloghan called for the suspension until the matter can be heard on June 9 and 10.
The hearing will consider claims by the Australian Mines and Metals Association that the strike should be called off on the grounds it is unlawful.
AMMA claims the MUA had breached industrial laws because it had not met criteria to genuinely seek to reach an agreement before taking industrial action.
In a sign of increasingly fractious relations, AMMA and the MUA yesterday accused each other of dishonesty. "The union seems hell-bent on striking and thus continues to fabricate what is really going on to justify such action to its members," AMMA executive director Scott Barklamb said.
"The employer is committed to negotiating a fair and sustainable deal for its employees, but the MUA is insistent they strike."
MUA secretary Christy Cain said AMMA's opposition was part of a politically motivated campaign about industrial relations laws.
"AMMA has been misleading the public for more than 12 months about the wages and conditions of MUA workers," he said.
It is the second major maritime strike to be put on hold in about a week, with the MUA recently agreeing to delay a stoppage by 56 tugboat operators employed by Teekay Shipping in Port Hedland.
The MUA is also seeking to hold a ballot of Esperance Port stevedores and maintenance workers to ask whether they wish to take industrial action over pay.
The union wants a 4 per cent pay rise every year for three years. Workers have been offered an increase of about 2.5 per cent.
The union also wants a new income protection insurance, worth the equivalent of an extra 2 per cent, to cover workers for injuries outside work.
Esperance Port chief executive Shayne Flanagan said a strike would shut the port.
The authority will today oppose the application for a secret ballot.