Industrial referee drops Svitzer lockout

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Australia’s industrial umpire has ordered a major tug operator to ditch the planned lockout of workers from ports across the country.

A full session of the Fair Work Commission ruled on Thursday that a lockout by Svitzer would cause significant damage to the Australian economy.

Svitzer planned to lock out more than 580 workers indefinitely from Friday at 17 ports in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.

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The committee will continue its hearing on Friday when it will consider whether to suspend the union action for a period of time or to end it entirely.

In a statement, the Danish company informed its customers of the ruling and that the exclusion will not take place.

“The FWC is considering overnight whether to suspend or terminate the protected union action, but they have made it clear that they will issue an order before noon,” Svitzer said.

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“On this basis, the lockout will not continue and customers will be able to return to scheduled shipping movements and resume port operations.”

Svitzer announced the lockout of tugboat workers in response to a number of strikes over the past month following a three-year bargaining dispute.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said the move would cripple supply chains.

– MONKEY