Melbourne port workers deny Maritime Union strikes will cancel Christmas after wharf operator Patrick warned of shortages

One of Australia’s major port operators said small and medium-sized retailers affected by COVID would suffer the brunt of the ‘ugly’ inventory disruption as Melbourne docks prepare to strike for much of the month. October.

Patrick Terminals said on Monday that the shutdown measures planned by the Maritime Union of Australia, following an 18-month dispute over working conditions, could lead to shortages of electronics, furniture, appliances, d ‘imported sports equipment and building materials. at Christmas.

The Melbourne docks are preparing to strike in a dispute with Patrick.Credit:Jessica shapiro

But the union said Patrick, one of the three main operators on the Melbourne docks, was alarmist, that there was no threat to Christmas supplies and that the strikes did not need to continue. if the dispute could be settled.

Major retailers have said they are well positioned to deal with disruptions at docks after being forced to build up large stocks for the bumper Christmas sales expected as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on international transport during a much of the year.

But the industry’s main lobby group, the Australian Retailers Association, said Age and Sydney morning Herald the docks’ decision to strike would likely have a disproportionate effect on smaller retailers who were less well prepared.

“This will have a big impact on small and medium-sized enterprises, so we hope that the labor dispute will be resolved quickly,” said the association’s general manager, Paul Zahra.

Company negotiations between Patrick and the union failed because of the company’s desire to hire “additional workers”, which the MUA says is precarious and a threat to the job security of the company. his members.

Patrick’s chief executive, Michael Jovicic, said the union plans to step up its campaign, quitting work in Melbourne every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout October.

“It’s going to hurt us a lot. It takes… between 20% and 25% of our capacity, ”Mr. Jovicic said. “We run something like 43% of the overall market in Australia, so there’s about a 43% chance that we’ve managed something that you just bought from Kmart, for example, or Bunnings. “

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