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DP World Australia profits from scapegoating workers

news Press Release 16 Jan 2024

While raking in record profits and gouging Australian businesses through massive price hikes, Dubai-owned port operator DP World is attempting to break Australian workers with demands for wage cuts and roster changes that will have a detrimental impact on both productivity and safety. 

DP World's Australian container terminals have reported a staggering $830 million in revenue, with profits quadrupling over the last three years, according to the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report. Despite this financial success, DP World has demonstrated a callous disregard for dockers from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). 

Profiting off the back of workers, exploiting consumers: 

  • DP World Australia, one of Australia’s two largest port operators, has paid no tax in Australia despite generating revenue of more than $4.5bn over eight years. 

  • Employees received only a 2.5% wage increase last year (6% below inflation) substantially lower than dockers at neighbouring Patrick Terminals, where employees received a 7.3% cost-of-living increase in January 2023 and another increase of 5.4% in January 2024 in line with the Consumer Price Index. 

  • DP World will hike container fees up to 52% on 1 February 2024, contributing to inflationary pressures throughout the Australian economy. 

  • While refusing to pay workers in line with cost-of-living increases, they lavish millions on sponsorships and executive bonuses. 

The MUA sought to commence negotiations in March 2023 and were ignored before the agreement expired on 30 September 2023 before commencing lawful, protected industrial action in October 2023. Following the commencement of industrial action, the response from DP World Australia’s management have routinely cancelled scheduled meetings and refused to come back to the bargaining table.

DP World Australia is demanding: 

  • Immediate wage cuts of up to 14% linked to roster changes. 

  • Forced weekend work, up to 65 shifts per year, destroying work-life balance. 

  • Cuts to annual leave and long service leave, violating National Employment Standards. 

  • Erosion of hard-earned workplace conditions negotiated over decades in exchange for productivity gains. 

“DP World Australia’s management is scapegoating workers for its own failures in negotiation, leading to an appalling attack on wages and employment conditions, highlighted by an unprecedented 14% cut in wages,” said Niek Stam, Vice-Chair of the ITF Dockers’ Section. “We won't stand idly by while DP World exploits Australian dock workers, fleeces consumers, dodges taxes and continues to play cheap tricks in the media to demonise their workforce.”  

“DP World Australia needs to look at the rest of the world, industrial relations don’t need to be a race to the bottom. In Dutch and Belgian ports all container terminal agreements include inflation, and employers and workers have the opinion that workers don’t work every day to lose out in terms of cost of living. That is why we have agreements with automatic CPI increases and we are proud of that.” 

Stam called on DP World to get back to the negotiating table and bargain in good faith to offer a fair deal. 

Freight and trade groups also have called out DP World over the weekend, saying that the company’s decision to raise landside fees by up to a “staggering” 52 per cent from 1 February is “another kick in the guts”. 

Unions operating in DP World ports around the globe today condemned DP World Australia’s aggressive behaviour, their media misinformation campaign and the demonisation of their workforce. 

Marc Loridan, head of the Belgian Union of Transport Workers (BTB), condemned DP World Australia’s behaviour: "This is not how DP World treats workers in Belgium where we have a strong, cooperative relationship. Internationally, DP World Australia is seen as an outlier. Their tactics are despicable. They provoke industrial action and then claim they can't afford fair wages. They must be brought into line." 

Rob Ashton, President of ILWU Canada where DP World also operates, echoed the sentiment: "DP World's behaviour in Australia is an international disgrace and an insult to dock workers all over the world. They are exploiting workers and gouging consumers, all while hiding behind record profits. It's time for them to come to the table and act like a responsible corporate citizen." 

Bobby Morton, National Officer at Unite the Union said: “Unite the Union condemns DP World Australia's ruthless tactics and blatant disregard for good faith. It's a stain on their global reputation. Dubai needs to intervene and sort this out and come back with a serious offer to end this dispute. This wouldn't happen in the UK and shouldn't happen anywhere." 

The ITF stands in solidarity with the MUA and its members, demanding fair wages, job security, dignity in employment, and safety in the workplace. 

For more information, contact:  Siân Manaz +44 (0)7850 736145 <