Unions had planned to strike against Teekay Shipping over a long-running pay dispute. Photo: Port Hedland AuthorityThe union representing tugboat engineers has called off a planned strike at Port Hedland this weekend after realising they had made a mistake in issuing its industrial notices.
It is a spectacular blunder for the union, which had hoped to raise the stakes in a protracted pay dispute with BHP Billiton shipping contractor Teekay Shipping.
The Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers believed they could issue strike notices on shipping contractor Teekay Shipping as late as Tuesday.
But under the law, the notice needed to be provided on Monday, which would have allowed strike action to commence on Friday – the last day of a 30-day window allowing protected industrial action.
AIMPE senior national organiser Andrew Williamson said the union had made a mistake in believing the ballot period for industrial action ran until Saturday. This was because the union believed the period began the day after the ballot of its workers was declared in favour of industrial action.
If workers vote for the right to take action, they have a 30-day window to do so provided they give the employer three working days’ notice before going on strike.
The union’s confusion may have stemmed from a day’s grace given when strike notices are issued to employers.
The day that strike notices are delivered to employers does not count, meaning the three-day notice period ahead of strike commences a day after the strike notice is issued.
Mr Williamson said the union was organising a fresh ballot of its workers. It is a process that is expected to take five weeks.
BHP Billiton and Teekay had threatened to take the union to the Federal Court, arguing on Thursday that their action was illegal.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.