Tug boat workers servicing Rio Tinto's iron ore division have voluntarily taken a pay cut

Tugboat workers involved in shipping Rio Tinto's Western Australian iron ore to Asia have agreed to surrender a large chunk of their scheduled pay rises, as the fallout from the 2014 industrial dispute at Port Hedland continues to play out.

The tug workers, employed by a towage company called Westug, were scheduled to receive a 4 per cent pay rise in 2016 and 2017, but have opted to instead accept annual rises of about 1.3 per cent.

The reduction was agreed after Westug appealed to workers to help its bid to win a contract renewal.

Westug is understood to be contracted to provide towage services at Rio's Cape Lambert and Dampier ports until the end of 2016.

Mindful of how the 2014 Port Hedland dispute prompted BHP Billiton to award contracts to non-union tugs, the unionised workforce manning Westug's boats decided to accept the reduction in a bid to help the company make a competitive pitch to Rio.
The tug workers were members of the Australian Institute of Marine Power Engineers (AIMPE) and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU), and both those unions were named in the original workplace agreement that was submitted to the Fair Work Commission in December 2013.

Both those unions were involved in the 2014 Port Hedland dispute, but unlike 2014, the Maritime Union of Australia was not involved in the recent strike

Author: Peter Ker

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