The Business Times

BHP may seek govt help in tugboat dispute

Published Thu, May 22, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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[SYDNEY] BHP Billiton said on Wednesday it may seek government intervention to avert industrial action by tugboat workers at the Port Hedland iron ore port that threatens to disrupt hundreds of millions of dollars in exports.

"It's highly likely we would do that," Jimmy Wilson, president of BHP's iron ore division, told reporters amid a long-running dispute between union workers and port services operator Teekay Shipping, which charges BHP a fee for operating tug services. BHP also called the union's demands on pay and working conditions "unreasonable".

Australia's government has intervened in industrial disputes before. In 2011, the Fair Work Australia commission stepped in to end a long-running dispute between Qantas and three unions when the airline grounded its fleet, as the national carrier's move threatened damage to the country's economy.

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