Industrial conflict over Fremantle port blocks farm machinery worth millions

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Millions of dollars in farm machinery destined for the port of Fremantle have been diverted to the east coast due to an ongoing industrial dispute involving dockworkers and one of Australia’s largest logistics providers.

The farm machinery industry estimates that 44 harvesters and 31 tractors aboard three ships will not arrive in time for harvest. They may need to be unloaded at the ports of Melbourne and Adelaide before being brought back to WA.

It comes as logistics company QUBE and the Maritime Workers Union remain stuck in a deadlock on worker lists, resulting in significant backlogs at WA’s main port since the collective action began in July.

Farmers rave about

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said affected grain farmers feared they would end up without the vital machinery needed to harvest what is expected to be the state’s biggest crop.

“It’s appalling timing. There are going to be farmers who let go of their used machines on the basis that they were guaranteed delivery of these new machines in time for harvest,” he said. -he declares.

“The machines could have been off the dock, at the dealership and on the farm today if they had been unloaded.

“Suddenly finding out that the machine you were thinking of using for the upcoming harvest is going to Melbourne is not a good situation at all.”

Mr Seabrook said he “shuddered” at what impacted farmers would do if they didn’t have combines in the weeks to come.

“There has been no consideration of the impact of what their actions will have in a year when we have a record harvest to harvest, and these machines are desperately needed.”

Tony Seabrook says the labor dispute comes at a “appalling” time for grain farmers. (

ABC: Chris Lewis

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Solution of previous lists: Union

Maritime Workers Union WA secretary Will Tracey said the dispute centers on how QUBE registered staff.

“There is an easy solution to this problem. Let QUBE warn them [workers] at 2:00 pm the day before, staff are asked to work to find out if they are working the next day and if their shift will be day, evening or night and how many hours it will be, ”he said.

“There is a large proportion of waterfront workers with QUBE who are casual workers. [QUBE] Removes them from the list for three weeks. “

A row of ships lined up against a quay carrying cargo with hovering cranes.
Has seen at least three ships containing vital agricultural machinery have been hijacked between states. (

Provided: Fremantle ports

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Staff with “very good salary”

QUBE’s chief industrial relations director Dan Coulton said it was the shipping line owners who chose to bypass Fremantle to avoid being caught in the delays resulting from the conflict.

He said that the current arrangement of the list [including two hours’ notice for work] was standard industry practice resulting from a common user station.

“We are impacted by our competitors in terms of what they do and their practices and delays in ships,” he said.

“We give them the notice as soon as possible.

“So they get a really good work-life balance and the nuances of continuous fluctuating shipping – these are things that are beyond our control, so how do we promise something that we can’t deliver?”


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