Check the contract, Gartner warns

With the expiry looming of enterprise agreements that ended the trade union war on Australia's waterfront, IT managers should check that contract clauses indemnify them from extra transport costs warns Gartner.

Phil Sargeant, research director, services and storage for Gartner, said: "How much of an impact another strike of that magnitude could have on the IT industry would depend on how accurately vendors forecast their requirements. Obviously it is cheaper to import stock by sea than air, which may incur an additional cost to a contract."

The Patrick Stevedores and the Maritime Union Australia (MUA) enterprise agreements carved out of the most bitter dispute Australia has ever seen on its waterfronts, was finalised in September 1998. The two agreements, one for terminals and one for general stevedoring, are due to expire in September this year.

A spokesperson for the MUA said a planned National Patrick Delegation Conference will discuss issues to be raised during new enterprise agreement negotiations with Patrick.

The conference, to be attended by 50 union members at the MUA's head office in Sydney, will also elect a negotiation committee.

The MUA and Patrick confirmed to Computerworld that discussions for the new enterprise agreement have been set to start in April.

"We are making sure with the negotiations this time there is a full and controlled participation and plenty of time to talk things through," said the spokesperson for the MUA.

"There is no industrial action on the cards."

Sargeant said the 1998 waterfront dispute affected the IT industry as most hardware is made overseas. "The server and storage markets were certainly impacted."

"I was actually with [a vendor] at the time of the dispute and we were wanting desk product and had to take drastic action to get stock," he said.

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