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News News Federal Government moves to lock unions out of docks
IN a move that could shut maritime unions out of the docks, Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has approved the transfer of thousands of Patrick stevedores to a sister company covered by Comcare, the government's workers compensation scheme.

The Australian Financial Review today reports that under the proposed restructure of Asciano, the holding company for Toll Holdings' former Patrick and Pacific National assets, 5,336 full-time equivalent positions would be transferred to the much smaller Pacific National (ACT) Limited in September.

If, under the change, Asciano becomes a self-insurer with Comcare, its workers would come under federal occupational health and safety laws, meaning union officials would have to give 24 hours' notice to attend any Patrick dock.

Under most state schemes, union officials have instant access to sites to investigate workplace accidents.

The paper says the move has angered unions, which believe Comcare lacks the staff and resources to properly look after highly specialised and risky work such as stevedoring.

Mr Hockey approved the move on June 18, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.

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