Patrick Terminals has applied to the Fair Work Commission seeking an urgent hearing to end industrial action which it says is crippling Australia's major container terminals.
Wharfies at the Patrick Terminal in Port Botany say they have been undertaking industrial action for about a month in protest at the company's plan to scrap a number of workplace conditions.
The Pharmacy Guild and the Therapeutic Goods Administration said if the action at Sydney's Port Botany continues it won't be long before there are shortages of prescription medicine, with supply chains already under pressure.
Patricks on Monday lodged an application with the FWC seeking to terminate protected industrial action by the the Maritime Union of Australia at Patrick terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle.
Federal Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said the government would intervene in support of Patrick Terminals' application for the MUA to immediately halt its action.
"Many other industry sectors have also begun to report supply chain problems which are directly linked to the MUA action," he said in a statement.
"It is vital that we see a quick resolution to this dispute."
The union denied claims that its limited action at Patrick's Port Botany container terminal was causing major shipping delays, including to medical supplies, saying Patricks' was trying to "use community fear to force through attacks on workplace rights".
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin accused Patrick management of deliberately escalating the dispute in an attempt to use political and public concerns to drive through cuts to workplace conditions.
"The company rejected the union's offer to roll over the existing workplace agreement, they rejected our offer to suspend all industrial action, and they rejected our attempts to put procedures in place that would ensure no impacts on vital goods like medical supplies," Mr Crumlin said.
Patrick CEO Michael Jovicic said the MUA action was in pursuit of six per cent pay rises and inflicting serious harm on the business, customers, importers, exporters and shipping lines.
"The union is threatening to ramp up the industrial action this week and has notified of a 24 hour strike at Port Botany on Friday," he said
The union said only industrial action that has occurred at the Patrick container terminal in Port Botany has been a single four hour-stoppage about four weeks ago, along with bans on working excessive hours.
It said Patrick management had cancelled three consecutive night shifts -- on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights -- preventing any containers from being unloaded or transported from the terminal.
The MUA said it wrote to Patrick at the start of September seeking to arrange measures to ensure medical supplies were not impacted by industrial action. That approach was rejected by Patrick.
Port Botany, where the Patrick Terminal is located, handles 99 per cent of all container movements into and out of NSW.