Port Hedland Tug Engineers Approve Agreement, Ending Strike Threat

Ships waiting to be loaded with iron ore are seen at Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Photo: REUTERS/David Gray
Ships waiting to be loaded with iron ore are seen at Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Photo: REUTERS/David Gray
By Phoebe Sedgman

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) — Tugboat engineers at Australia’s Port Hedland approved a labor agreement, ending the threat of strikes at the world’s largest bulk export terminal.

The Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers endorsed a new enterprise agreement, Teekay Shipping (Australia) Pty said in an e-mailed statement. Teekay is contracted by BHP Billiton Ltd. to run tugboats at the port, located 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) north of Perth. Unions representing tug masters and deckhands approved four-year enterprise agreements on Nov. 10, according to Teekay.

The approval ends months of negotiations over pay and annual leave between the three unions and Teekay that included threats to strike. Disruptions would have cost suppliers about A$100 million ($85 million) a day, BHP said in May. Exports through Port Hedland represented 55 percent of Australia’s iron ore exports last year and more than 80 percent of cargoes go to China, port and government data show.

Teekay has lodged the new agreement with the Fair Work Commission for its approval, it said in today’s statement without providing details of the agreement.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.