Picketers caused serious disruptions at both the Sydney and Brisbane port terminals on 10 August. The protesters claim that their former employer, HPH, has relieved them of their duties in order to take on a higher level of automation.
The workers are also angry that decisions regarding the most recent wave of layoffs were a unilateral decision. The workers in question are members of unions. The unions were not considered in these decision making processes.
In July, Hutchison Ports scaled back its services after it lost a bid to add an additional terminal in Melbourne. This setback is now compounded by the lack of cargo awarded to the company. The scale backs also included a round of layoffs.
The company has previously blamed the generous pay agreements and high labor costs of operating within the Australian shipping market for its financial issues.
Protestors are angry about more than just their text message dismissal. There are rumors swirling that HPH have been negotiating with a Philippino company to embark on a venture that would undercut costs by using workers who remain non-union.
While the relationship between the two companies could help bring HPH above water, the reports regarding non-union workers have heightened tensions at the company.
Picketers took to the docks on Monday only a few days after the Fair Work Commission called for the end of industrial action. The picketers say that they are merely taking part in a peaceful protest regarding the unfair treatment of workers by HPH.
Meanwhile, ICTSI, the Manilla based shipping company, has seen revenues rise by 8% in 2015.
A partnership with ICTSI could help HPH get out of its financial hole. The agreement could be mutually beneficial and provide a foothold in new markets for both companies.
As the rumors continue to swirl about HPH’s behavior towards its workers, the company may find HR issues added to its long list of woes.