Svitzer Industrial Action 2022

Maritime unions have announced Svitzer industrial action which will affect Australia tug masters, engineers and deckhands.

The towage operator said it is “experiencing a significant escalation in protected industrial action Across Australia’s major ports with widespread stoppages scheduled from 10th November through to 15th November”.

The newly announced protected industrial actions include:

Brisbane Industrial Action:

  • An 8 hour stop work period by tug masters from 2200 Saturday, 12 November until 0600 the following day
  • An 8 hour stop work period by tug engineers from 0601 until 1401 on Sunday 13 November.

Melbourne and Westernport Industrial Action:

  • An 8 hour stop work period by deckhands, engineers and masters from 0001 until 0800 on Monday, 14 November.

Sydney Industrial Action:

  • A 48-hour ban by tug masters on the performance of work on certain shipping line vessels (understood to be Maersk) on Saturday, 12 November and Sunday 13 November
  • A 48-hour stop-work period by casual and fixed term tug masters from 0001, Saturday 12 November until 0001, Monday 14 November
  • A 48-hour ban on performing recall and/or relief work from 0001 Saturday 12 November until 0001, Monday 14 November.

Western Australia Industrial Action:

  • At Albany and Fremantle, Svitzer said in a statement there is effectively 24 hours of work stoppages from 0700 on Thursday 10 November through a mix of tug engineer, master and deckhand stop-work actions.
  • At Kwinana, there is a similar situation with an effective 25 hours of stoppages from 0700 on 10 November through a mix of engineer, master and deckhand stop-work actions.

These are in addition to myriad other stop-work actions and work bans that the Maritime Union of Australia, the Australia Maritime Officers Union and the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers have announced over recent weeks.

According to the latest list issued by Svitzer, there are nearly 200 current notices of protected industrial action by the unions (as of Wednesday 09/11 afternoon).

Tuesday 15th November – Svitzer Industrial Action Update:

Svitzer Industrial Action – Lockout of Harbour Towage Crews

We have been notified of Action taken yesterday (14/11) at 11am AEDT that Svitzer Australia informed the three Maritime Unions (MUA, AIMPE and AMOU), of its intent to lockout all crews covered by the Svitzer Australia Pty Ltd National Towage Enterprise Agreement indefinitely from 12pm Friday 18th of November 2022 AEDT. 

The Full Notice from Svitzer is below:

Dear Customers and Stakeholders

I’m writing to advise you that this morning at 11am AEDT, Svitzer Australia informed the three maritime unions (MUA, AIMPE and AMOU) and relevant crew of its intent to lockout all crews covered by the Svitzer Australia Pty Ltd National Towage Enterprise Agreement (2016) indefinitely, from 12pm, Friday 18 November 2022 AEDT.

The step is being taken by Svitzer under the provisions of the Fair Work Act in response to damaging and ongoing industrial action being organised by the unions.

Svitzer has been notified of more than 1100 instances of protected industrial action since October 2020. It has received more than 250 instances of protected industrial action since 20 October 2022 alone, amounting to nearly 2000 hours of work stoppages.

This action is causing serious harm and disruption to the national supply chain and Svitzer has had to respond to the protected industrial action as a matter of necessity – using the legal rights we have available.

Our goal throughout has been to try reach a new enterprise agreement. We have bargained in good faith exhaustively over the last three years.  We are only seeking a fair go for the business which is restricted by many legacy conditions that make it difficult to operate, meet the needs and expectations of our customers, and keep Australia’s imports and exports running.

This decision was not taken lightly, and we recognise that you will have many questions and will seek to understand the situation as comprehensively as possible.

We regret this information reaching you by email in the first instance but hope you can understand the need to share this with you as quickly as possible.

The lockout notice affects port operations in the following locations:








Sydney: Port Botany & Port Jackson 

Port Kembla





South Australia


Port Pirie

Western Australia





Nicolaj Noes
Managing Director


Wednesday 16th November – Svitzer Industrial Action Update:

Notices from the Svitzer Website:

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) issued a statement and directions late yesterday listing a hearing to decide whether or not to suspend or terminate protected industrial action by Svitzer – and with it, all industrial action.

A hearing is timetabled for 12.00pm (AEDT) today, Wednesday, 16 November 2022.

Svitzer will make a submission to the FWC as part of the process.

It is important to note that all protected industrial action remains current – in terms of both the protected industrial actions notified by the unions and underway currently, as well as the lockout notice advised by Svitzer Australia for this Friday from 12pm (AEDT).

At this stage it is difficult to predict the outcome, and we respect and will engage with the FWC process.


This evening (16 November, AEDT) maritime unions advised they have temporarily suspended all industrial action from midnight tonight (local times).

Svitzer operational teams are working through how this might be managed recognising this advice was provided with short notice by the unions and contingencies were already put in place to manage the impacts of their protected industrial action safely.

Svitzer remains committed to the Fair Work Commission hearing scheduled for 1pm tomorrow and the need to be respectful of due process.

The lockout remains for 12pm AEDT Friday. 

This matter requires resolution as soon as possible for all parties. Svitzer notes the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations comments today in support of termination.


Thursday 17th November – Svitzer Industrial Action

Full notice from the Svitzer Website:

Dear Customers and Stakeholders

Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

The Fair Work Commission hearing has concluded for today, but in its statement before adjourning it advised the lockout will not proceed.

The hearing remains underway and the FWC is giving some further considerations overnight as to whether to suspend or terminate the protected industrial action – but they have made it clear they will issue an order before midday (AEDT) Friday 18 November. 

On this basis, the lockout will not proceed and customers can return to planned shipping movements and recommence port operations. 


Friday 18th November – Svitzer Industrial Action

Full notice from the Svitzer Website:

Dear Customers and Stakeholders

A full bench of the Fair Work Commission has advised of its decision this morning with respect to the protected industrial action.

Importantly, the FWC has ordered a suspension of all industrial action for a period of six (6) months.

We welcome the certainty this brings to our customers and stakeholders. Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding at this time.


You can visit the Svitzer Website for more information.

This page will be updated accordingly as we recieve more notices.

Svitzer Industrial Action will affect supply chains in the lead up to holidays.