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Morrison tells striking wharfies to 'get back to work'

Business

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told wharfies to “get back to work” as negotiations over industrial action at Sydney’s Port Botany move into a second day.

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The PM is refusing to say if the Federal Government will intervene if the industrial action that has led to a backlog of shipping containers is not resolved quickly.

“I don’t speculate on what our next step might be, I don’t think that is constructive,” he said on Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.

“What I am saying is get back to work, the country needs our wharves open and operating at peak capacity at a time like this.”

The wharfies’ union and stevedoring company Patrick Terminals are returning to the Fair Work Commission after nine hours of unsuccessful negotiations on Wednesday.

The Maritime Union of Australia offered a peace deal involving a 2.5 per cent pay rise to end the dispute, but the parties walked away without an agreement.

Morrison described the original union bid for a six per cent annual pay rise as extortion when “everyone else is either taking no increases at all or even worse than that”.

“Particularly in a coronavirus recession, we’ve got 17 days waiting times for ships in Port Botany in Sydney,” he said.

“This is a very serious issue and this is something that needs to get sorted out, so we’re watching that very closely, we want those parties to sort it out,” he said.

Asked about the wharves again on 5AA, he said the clock was ticking and he would prefer the parties sort it out themselves, but “they need to get a wriggle on”.

-AAP

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