BHP sues union $7m for 4hr strike
BHP Billiton has launched legal action against the Maritime Union of Australia for $7 million the mining giant claims was lost through a four hour "illegal" strike at a major iron ore port in the Pilbara.
BHP Billiton filed a writ on the MUA and its West Australian assistant branch secretary William Tracey on June 28 claiming the short strike by workers at the Port Hedland port on March 9 had cost millions in lost business.
BHP has an agreement with the Port's Authority to provide tug services for all users, including Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group, who in turn also pay a towage fee.
A Port Hedland Port Authority spokesman said only two vessels missed their windows on the morning tide on March 9, one ship was from a FMG berth, which went on to sail 12 hours late.
The other ship was due to sail from BHP's berth at 10am on the morning, but was delayed 11 hours.
Mr Tracey told employees of Teekay Shipping, BHP's tug services subcontractor, to stop work, after negotiations with the MUA over conditions had stalled, according to the writ.
The Teekay workers then went on strike stalling the iron ore shipments in and out of the port from 10am to 1pm, BHP claims.
According to the BHP writ of summons, the strike was "illegal" and caused Teekay to breach its agreement with the miner.
"...the services have been disrupted and delayed with the result that the plaintiffs have incurred additional expenses and suffered irrecoverable damages," the writ states.
"...the plaintiff has suffered loss and damage to the sum of $7,000,000." BHP is also seeking interest on the amount up to the date of judgment.
BHPB declined to comment while the matter was still before the courts and Mr Tracey could not be contacted.
It is understood Teekay may also pursue legal action.
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