Shipping will come to a standstill in the ports of Newcastle, Sydney and Geelong today after tugboat engineers launched strike action early this morning.
The strike by Svitzer employees began at 4:00am and is due to end at 4:00pm today.
The industrial action comes after unsuccessful negotiations for a new enterprise agreement, with engineers rejecting attempts by Svitzer to bring them under the same agreement as deckhands and tugboat skippers.
Ports affected today include Newcastle, Sydney and Geelong, while further strike action is planned in Brisbane and Melbourne tomorrow.
The Port of Newcastle said cargo loading and unloading would continue during the 12-hour stoppage but shipping would pause.
Federal secretary of the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers Martin Byrne said the action was not being taken lightly.
“The issue is one of great concern to them, however in terms of impact, we gave notice last Wednesday, six days ago,” he said.
“The arrivals and departures in the Port of Newcastle have been rescheduled so as to avoid a clash with the 12-hour stoppage that’s been notified.”
The Port of Newcastle said it was working to minimise the impact on its customers.