MELBOURNE, June 10 Tug boat engineers at
Australia's top iron ore export port backed plans for possible
strike action in a fight for more leave and shorter work hours
that could halt a quarter of the world's iron ore exports.
Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers
(AIMPE)members approved five proposals ranging from unlimited
work stoppages of four hours up to 48 hours, according to the
ballot result released by the Australian Electoral Commission.
The tug boats, operated by Teekay Shipping, guide
iron ore carriers in and out of Port Hedland, which handles more
than half of Australia's iron ore exports.
Deckhands and captains making up the rest of crews on the
tugboats approved strike proposals earlier. None of the unions
have set a date for a strike as they are all still in talks with
Teekay to resolve their dispute.
The next mediation sessions are set for June 12 and July 3.
Tug crews have had to deal with a sharp increase in traffic
at the port as Australia's no.2 and 3 iron ore producers, BHP
Billiton Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd
, have recently completed major expansions.
The port set a new tonnage record of 1.27 million tonnes
shipped on a single tide on Saturday, the port authority said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)