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Posted by November 20, 2014

Aussie Tug Engineers take Deal, Cancel Strike

Tug engineers withdrew plans to strike at Port Hedland, Australia's biggest iron ore port, tug operator Teekay Shipping said on Thursday, removing a threat to exports from BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

The Australian Institute of Marine & Power Engineers (AIMPE) a day earlier had given notice of a four-hour stoppage to come on Nov. 22, after rejecting an enterprise agreement offering additional annual leave and three annual 2 percent wage hikes.

But Teekay said AIMPE has agreed to a new enterprise agreement and withdrew its notice of industrial action. It did not disclose terms of the new agreement.

"The AIMPE have endorsed the proposed enterprise agreement, which will be provided to the engineers for their review and vote to approve it," Teekay said in a statement.

AIMPE assistant federal secretary Martin Byrne told Reuters his organisation called off the strike after Teekay agreed to several changes including extra pay for engineers who work overtime on dry docks and efforts to limit work days to 12 hours, rather than the 14 hours engineers sometimes work.

"We have agreed settlement with the company, (and) I have formally notified the company that the action will not proceed," Byrne said. AIMPE members have been sent a recommendation that the new agreement should be approved, he added.

Tug boat captains, engineers and deck hands have been demanding higher pay and more leave from Teekay following a one-third increase in iron ore shipments through Port Hedland over the past year that has stretched their work hours.

Australian shipments of iron ore to China from Port Hedland, rose 6.5 percent to a near-record in October, port data released Nov. 4 showed.

Reporting by Byron Kaye

BHP BillitonTeekay ShippingPort Hedland