Port strike averted as pilots accept pay deal

The lingering threat of strike action at Port Kembla has been lifted after marine pilots and the Port Kembla Port Corporation struck a two-year deal on pay and conditions yesterday.

The deal includes 4 per cent annual pay rises, backdated to April this year.

Both sides declared they were satisfied with the outcome after months of prickly negotiations that included a ban on night ship movements by the eight pilots for several days last month.

MORE: No ships in the night as Port pilots strike

The pilots' union said they had unanimously agreed to accept the offer.

"Both parties are happy with the result and basically it gives the pilots at least another two years of security," Australian Maritime Officers Union industrial officer Robert Coombs said.

"It puts us on a very, very good footing to be able to negotiate a new contract of employment in two years' time with whoever the new employer might be."

The new agreement comes as the state government presses ahead with its plans to privatise Port Kembla on a 99-year-lease, generating an estimated $500 million.

Mr Coombs said there was a lot of "upheaval and insecurity" at the port and the union remained "sceptical" about the future role of the state-owned Port Kembla Port Corporation. It was now looking forward to a "period of industrial peace" and "establishing a positive relationship" with whoever took on the lease at the port.

Port Kembla Port Corporation chief executive Dom Figliomeni said both parties had negotiated in good faith, but he declined to provide details of the new agreement.

"I think from our customers' perspective it's very important that we reached agreement with minimal disruption," he said.

"What it basically means is they then don't incur additional costs in relation to ships that don't sit at anchor [and] the port itself doesn't lose any opportunities in terms of imports or exports that may have gone to other ports."

The NSW government previously confirmed the marine pilots would "stay with the government".

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