A dispute between Australian towage operators and the Maritime Union of Australia
(MUA) over tugboat manning numbers escalated as MUA officials said a crew-reduction plan by Adsteam Marine was an act of discrimination.
MUA representatives took exception with Adsteam's plan to cut tugboat crews to three people from four, saying that their union was singled out for the cuts. Three unions had been involved in enterprise negotiations, they said, but Adsteam only plans to make MUA employees redundant. The union plans to oppose the cutbacks by all means possible.
Adsteam cited foreign competition as the reason for money-saving cuts. The company plans to implement the cutbacks through an offer of voluntary redundancy to all general-purpose hands with the offer remaining open until Feb. 18. Failing that, redundancies will be made according to seniority.