Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has congratulated MUA members at Port Kembla for resisting attempts by Patrick stevedores to weaken working conditions and limit their wage increase.
"The stand Port Kembla workers are taking is important for the Illawarra region. Patrick Stevedores should drop its attacks on working conditions and conclude the negotiations, which have been dragging on for too long, in a constructive manner," Senator Rhiannon said.
"Asciano Ltd, which owns Patrick, had more than a 20 per cent increase in full year earnings. The company's workers have a right to decent wage rises.
"With the heavy job cuts in the steel industry, high unemployment across the Illawarra and many businesses feeling the flow on impact from the economic slump it is vital that workers maintain and improve conditions.
"I congratulate the MUA on the way they have conducted this campaign and for taking industrial action. The union has already offered a number of concessions in the current round of negotiations.
"It is Patrick management that is causing chaos at Port Kembla.
"I urge the company to work constructively with the union to find a resolution.
"Patrick's allegations about a productivity slump have all the hallmarks of the company's 1998 attempt to destroy the MUA when they made similar extreme claims about low rates of container turn around.
"A priority in the current negotiations should be job safety. Two wharfies have died on Patrick Port Botany wharves. This is a shameful record and further underlines the callous way this company is conducting itself in the current negotiations.
"Safety cannot be separated from productivity on the Australian waterfront," Senator Rhiannon said.