HPA Clarifies Stand on Industrial Dispute, Communications to Staff
Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) says it remains committed to negotiating a resolution to the current industrial dispute with workers in Brisbane and Sydney.
HPA also wishes to clarify some of the reporting to date, including the financial challenges being faced by HPA and the process around the text message and emailing communications to staff on August 6.
The company issued redundancies to 87 staff only after careful consideration of the current business conditions and following extensive consultation.
HPA has invested $700 million in the Australian operations since June 2013 and made an $87 million loss for the 2014 calendar year.
The company has been incurring substantial losses in Australia after finding it extremely difficult to break into the current duopoly in the Australian market.
General Manager of Human Resources Harriet Mihalopoulos said the company understood this was a difficult time for all concerned.
“The company is still prepared to engage in a dialogue about the redundancy program in an attempt to rebuild its operations in Sydney and Brisbane,” she said.
“In the context of the conciliation conferences before the Fair Work Commission, the company has put forward a number of ways of resolving the current impasse.
“Unfortunately, these discussions while ongoing have not resulted in a binding agreement at this point in time.
“As a result of this, HPA is now considering all of its options ahead of the Federal Court hearing on September 1.
“The company has maintained its position that unfortunately due to severe financial pressures it has had to make some hard decisions about the Australian operations.”
Ms Mihalopoulos said there had been extensive consultation with staff and unions regarding possible redundancies, dating back to June 26.
“There have been several face-to-face meetings and written communications to staff and the MUA during the period between June 26 and August 6 before staff were informed in a text message to check their emails for details on the next steps in the process and the face-to-face meeting about the redundancy program. The company took feedback from employees and employee representatives regarding the selection process for the redundancy program and modified the program accordingly.
“The text message and email communications are an agreed means of quickly sharing information between the company and staff, as set out in the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) negotiated by HPA and the MUA.
“The texts and emails were not sent in isolation, they were preceded by lengthy consultation and followed by proper processes. In addition to the text and emails, letters were also posted to the workers on the same date.”