WHARFIES in Sydney and Brisbane who were sacked via text message have been granted a reprieve.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) embarked on an 11th-hour battle in the Federal Court last Thursday to secure court orders barring Hutchison Ports from terminating the employment of nearly 100 workers.
Workers were informed by late-night text messages and emails that their last day of employment would be Friday, August 14, in a move that triggered lengthy blockades at the company’s port facilities in Brisbane and Sydney.
In a late-night court sitting on Thursday, Justice Darryl Rangiah agreed to grant a temporary order that that block Hutchison from going through with the sackings until a full hearing in September.
The matter returns to court for trial on September 1.
TIMELINE OF A TEXTING SAGA
* Thursday, Aug 6 — 94 workers sacked in late-night texts from shipping giant Hutchison Ports Australia
* Friday, Aug 7 — Unions seek urgent Federal Court injunction against sackings — Employment Minister Eric Abetz says sackings by text may be appropriate
* Saturday, Aug 8 — Labor and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) call Eric Abetz’s comments “heartless” — Rallies of more than 175 people in Brisbane and Sydney — Guards on Hutchison ports gates and workers unable to clear their lockers
* Sunday, Aug 9 — Supporters continue picketing Hutchison ports
* Monday, Aug 10 — Picketing continues at Brisbane and Sydney Hutchison ports — Power cut to Brisbane picket line, backed up by generators from unions — Deputy President Anna Booth orders an end to picketing at Fair Work Commission hearing in Sydney — HPA CFO Chee Keong Chan says industrial action should “cease immediately”
* Tuesday, Aug 11 — Picketing continues for fifth day — Maritime Union of Australia Veterans join Sydney picket — Qld MUA secretary Bob Carnegie denies picket is operating, calls it “peaceful community protest” — Qld Treasurer Curtis Pitt and other Labor politicians visit Brisbane port to back protesters
* Wednesday, Aug 12 — MUA files court documents alleging Hutchison breached enterprise agreement — MUA seeks injunction plus penalties and damages for workers
* Thursday, Aug 13 — A Federal Court judge grants temporary orders to halt Hutchison Ports’ plans to sack the workers — NSW Ports Minister Duncan Gay says “being let off by text” is inappropriate
To add insult to injury Employment Minister Eric Abetz told ABC TV that sacking by text message was “an appropriate methodology”.
Let’s see if he really thinks so. Here’s your chance to sack Eric Abetz by text.
For the first time in 20 years, Australia has more than 800,000 people unemployed. What will it take for the Abbott government to stand up for jobs?
If our Employment Minister won’t support Australian jobs then he’s in the wrong job. Send a text to sack Eric Abetz.