A militant union has pushed back against claims its industrial action tactics are causing medical shortages, labelling them “outrageous lies”.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is in negotiations with Patrick Terminal at Port Botany in Sydney over increased pay for wharfies.
Pharmacy Guild Australia senior vice-president Trent Twomey claimed in a Daily Telegraph report the MUA’s actions were causing medicine shortages.
The union said the assertion was categorically false.
“We have always taken a very keen interest in ensuring we are not stopping any medication from coming across the quay line,” MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer said.
“They can tell us which boxes they are and we’ll ensure they get off these vessels.”
A spokesperson for Pharmacy Guild Australia said: “We welcome their commitment today to let medical freight through.”
The months-long dispute intensified on Monday as Patrick sought support from the Fair Work Commission and Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in, saying: “The MUA is holding the country to ransom with extortionate claims which has seen ships backed up, out at sea, trying to bring things into our country when we are in a COVID recession.”
The MUA originally demanded a 6 per cent pay rise for wharfies, but as negotiations have progressed, has set its aim on an increase closer to 2-2.5 per cent a year.
The union said a threat of a 24-hour stoppage at Port Botany slated for last Friday was called off.
The current negotiating tactics involve workers refusing to do overtime or work above their pay grade.
NCA NewsWire has contacted Patrick Terminal for comment.