rt force tugboat teekay port hedland

Port Hedland Tug Engineers Cancel Planned Strike for More Talks

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August 6, 2014

RT Force, a tug owned by Teekay Shipping (Australia) Pty, image courtesy Port Hedland Port Authority

By Jasmine Ng

Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) — Tugboat engineers at Australia’s Port Hedland called off an intended strike that threatened exports from the terminal which ships about a quarter of the world’s seaborne iron ore cargoes.

The Australian Institute of Marine & Power Engineers didn’t serve the action notice within the required period and had to withdraw it, union official Andrew Williamson said today. The union will continue negotiations with Teekay Shipping (Australia) Pty and may ballot to strike again, he said. Teekay is contracted by BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, to tow vessels at the port.

Stoppages would threaten exports by companies including BHP and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Iron ore is Australia’s biggest export earner and disruptions could cost suppliers about A$100 million ($93 million) a day, BHP estimated in May. Shipments through Port Hedland represented 55 percent of the country’s iron ore exports last year and more than 80 percent of cargoes go to China, port and government data show.

“There was a technical glitch with the industrial action notices where in fact they should have been served within 30 days,” Williamson said by phone. “It went one extra day to 31 days inadvertently. That requires it to be withdrawn.”

Teekay said yesterday that the engineers had notified it that they intended to stop for four hours each on Aug. 9, Aug. 11 and Aug. 13. BHP said it believed that the action was unlawful and Teekay said it would seek an injunction to halt it.

–With assistance from Phoebe Sedgman and David Stringer in Melbourne.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.

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