It is encouraging news that the Fair Work Commission will hold a hearing at midday today concerning the proposed lockout. It is understood that if termination orders are made at the hearing, it will end all Protected Industrial Action and initiate arbitration of the bargaining claims.

Fair work commission swings into action

Yesterday, 15 Oct, Fair Work Commission vice-president Adam Hatcher said Svitzer’s announcement that it would commence a lockout on Friday caused the commission to consider ordering the company to suspend its action.

The FWC can step in to end such actions if they “cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it”, according to the Fair Work Act.

The act also gives the commission the power to act on its own initiative in such circumstances.

Vice-president Hatcher said the commission issued a similar order to striking tug masters in February. The AMOU members had announced 48-hour stoppages at various ports.

“The commission made orders … suspending protected industrial action … because it was satisfied that the action threatened to cause significant damage to an important part of the Australian economy,” the vice president wrote.

“The commission’s reasons included findings as to the actual damage caused or potential damage to be caused by this action. These findings give rise to a concern that the protected industrial action recently announced by Svitzer may similarly threaten to cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.”

We will endeavour to provide a further update on the outcome of the hearing. In the meantime, if you have any specific concerns, please reach out to your local Kerry Representative.