The risk of strike action at Port Hedland has escalated, after two more
unions representing tugboat workers sought permission to ballot workers
which possibly could lead to industrial action.
Last week, the Maritime Workers' Union representing tug deckhands won
permission from the Fair Work Commission to ballot workers over possible
industrial action, and unions representing engineers on tugboats (AIMPE)
and tug Masters (Aust Maritime Officers Union) are now seeking permission
to do the same.
The three unions are in dispute with the tug operator over a new workplace
The tug deckhands already have permission for a ballot, and have started a
five week voting period after ballots were posted out on Friday. (4 April).
The dispute could affect iron ore miners that ship product via Port Hedland
including BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals and Atlas Iron, as well as imports
of construction equipment for new mine projects and port expansion.