Stalemate in Programmed worker deal

Programmed Maintenance Services says it is stuck in a stalemate with the maritime workers union over "impractical" demands for about 500 seafarers working in North West waters.

Like other marine services providers, Programmed has been unable to reach an enterprise bargaining agreement with the Maritime Union of Australia since the previous deal expired last year.

The company said the risk of industrial action among workers at subsidiary Total Marine Services might cause some customers to defer work.

"It's impractical for us to even contemplate accepting many of the terms they want," Programmed managing director Chris Sutherland said.

"We have to respect that our clients' capacity to pay is limited.

"If we accept a deal that's uneconomic or impractical to apply, we won't have a business. People won't use us."

While talks with the MUA were continuing, the negotiations were in a "classic stalemate".

"I'm not sure what the breakthrough will be. We're very keen to see if we can find that."

Programmed will be watching closely a hearing in the Fair Work Commission next month between the MUA and marine contractor Tidewater.

A planned two-day strike this week by about 100 Tidewater employees over an EBA standoff was suspended after the commission issued an interim order against the union.

Programmed yesterday reported a $31 million net profit for the year ended March 30, down 3 per cent.

The result was underpinned by a 21 per cent increase in earnings at the company's property and infrastructure division. That was offset by a fall of the same percentage in resources following the completion of a manpower contract at CITIC Pacific's Sino Iron magnetite project in the Pilbara.

The West Australian

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