Almost 400 wharfies at two major ports in Sydney and Brisbane will begin industrial action this week as part of an ongoing dispute over a new workplace agreement.

Workers employed by Hutchison Ports at Port Botany in Sydney and the Port of Brisbane voted to take action after negotiations broke down following five months of talks.

The Maritime Union of Australia says Hutchison wants to ‘slash wages and conditions’.

The union says the proposed agreement would result in wage cuts of up to $10 an hour followed by a wage freeze and also reduce safety standards.

There’d be cuts to sick and parental leave, redundancy and long service leave, superannuation and income protection.


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Action by some 380 workers is set to begin on Thursday with a series of bans and limitations including on overtime and filling in higher roles.

Broader stop-work action – from 30 minutes to 24 hours – is planned for the coming weeks.

‘Our members refuse to sit back and watch as four decades of hard-won conditions are stripped away by a greedy multinational whose only concern is maximising its own profits,’ MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith said in a statement on Monday, adding it was the most severe attack on waterfront conditions in a generation.

Comment has been sought from Hutchison Ports.