THE MARITIME WORKERS’ JOURNAL • AUTUMN 2023
4 OFFSHORE ENERGY
The new fuel for maritime employment
8 SVITZER BRAWL
Global towage giant disgraces itself in Australian ports
16 SH IPS OF SHAME
ITF inspectors in Australia catch international breaches
22 MU A BACKS VOICE
Solidarity and struggle alongside First Nations Australians
33 H ELICOPTER RECOVERY
MUA seafarers assist ADF in Jervis Bay
42 WHARFIE CINEMA
70 years of the MUA Film Unit
FRONT COVER: MUA delegation to Wave Hill Freedom Day Festival, 2022
INSIDE COVER: WWF and SUA members throughout history supporting First Nations people’s fight for justice and equality.
EDITOR IN CHIEF Paddy Crumlin
PRINTER Planet Press
Maritime Workers’ Journal
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Offshore wind will future proof our industry
Australian seafarers and waterfront workers, on Australian vessels, will build the future energy infrastructure that will power our nation.
After many years of false starts where successive conservative governments federally have undermined and discouraged renewable energy investment, Australia is finally joining many other major economies in shifting to
large scale renewable energy.
Despite the pigheadedness of the Liberal and National Parties and their sycophants in the conservative media, everyday Australians have prioritised renewable energy. Rooftops throughout suburbia and regional communities tell the story of their decision to invest in clean, cheap and sustainable power.
The Albanese Federal Government’s announcement of renewable energy zones in places like Hunter and Illawarra regions of New South Wales and the Gippsland region of the Victorian coast is a similar commitment on behalf of
our nation in clean, renewable and sustainable energy that will contribute to the base load power requirements of our economy.
These announcements, and the billions of dollars of investment that will follow from them, are a boon for maritime workers. Hundreds of new seafaring, diving and waterfront jobs will arise from the construction and later maintenance of these offshore wind installations at ports around the nation. This in turn will require training, skills development and industry diversification, all of which will boost employment in the long-term.
With the Hon. Catherine King MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in Ballarat, early April, discussing the Labor Federal Government’s commitment to rebuild our shipping industry with a Strategic Fleet of Australian flagged and crewed vessels.
Strategic Fleet Taskforce
The Albanese Government continues to uphold its commitment to Australian seafarers, with the Strategic Shipping Fleet taskforce entering Phase 2 of its work to advise on how to reinvigorate the Australian merchant fleet. It will deliver its final advice to Government by the end of June 2023, from which we expect to see swift action to boost the number of Australian flagged vessels and for Australian seafarers to walk up the gangway, having been prosecuted, persecuted and vilified by the shameful successive actions of the Liberal and National Government during 2013 - 2022.
The natural disasters we have seen in Western Australia recently further highlight how important shipping is to protecting the social and economic interests of our nation. An island nation needs ships!
We have been unequivocal that the government’s primary aim should be to deliver a legislative and regulatory framework that sustains our industry in the long-term and which can’t be unpicked or reversed with the stroke of a pen by a future Liberal and Nationals Government acting in the commercial interests of the international shipping cartels and their own elitist agenda.
Read the report on Page 6
Vale Joe Crumlin
On behalf of the Crumlin family, thank you to the many members, veterans and the whole union family for your kind and supportive messages on the passing of my father Joe Crumlin earlier this year.
Joe was a legend on the Sydney waterfront and was thrilled when the Sydney branch celebrated that with the award which he and other legends of the waterfront received a number of years ago.
He was a close friend to many giants of our Union, including the former Federal Secretary Pat Geraghty and Presiding Officer John Benson who were shipmates in their years at sea and remained friends up to their passing.
It was an honour to be able to
celebrate his life amongst so many friends and comrades who joined with our family and Joe’s many friends at his funeral. The family asked that donations to HunterLink be made rather than receive gifts of flowers. $16,000 was donated in Joe’s honour.
See Obituary, Page 30
Mental health early intervention is saving lives
Hunterlink is a specialist, early intervention mental health service that works closely with the MUA to provide targeted support to maritime workers and seafarers struggling with their mental health. With over 7300 sessions delivered by telephone or online channels last year, Hunterlink works 24 hours a day to help workers in our industry overcome the challenges of isolation in our high risk workplaces, respond to critical incidents like workplace accidents or fatalities, as well as provide ongoing support for MUA members and our anyone in our immediate family facing many of life’s challenges.
Hunterlink is a Not for Profit charity that also provides specialist outreach services to international seafarers both alongside at wharves or online and by telephone. These services are delivered 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week from their headquarters in Newcastle, but users of the service can be located anywhere on the globe.
Democracy and grassroots activism are central to the life and work of the Maritime Union. Our quadrennial elections are an important process by which members of the union determine the leadership and direction of our organisation.
The postal ballot for all positions being contested by two or more nominees will open on 28 April 2023 and run until 14 June 2023 to allow all members to exercise their right to vote.
This is the first quadrennial elections at which our Union will fill two new Assistant National Secretary positions, one being a woman and one being a First Nations person. This
will provide senior representation in every forum for the full diversity of our membership and is a crucial reform which our membership has endorsed at a worksite, branch and national level.
I encourage all members to participate in the elections by exercising your right to vote on the future direction of our Union.
Further information about the MUA’s elections can be found at the Union’s website via www.mua.org.au/ mua-quadrennial-election-2023-2027
The Returning Officer can be contacted by email at email@example.com
Voice to parliament and representation in our union
Our Union has a long and proud history of social activism in support of Australia’s First Nations people. That is why we have proudly, and with the support of worksites and branches throughout the country, supported two crucial reforms in recent times. Firstly, within our own organisation, we are ensuring we represent the workers and their families who make up our Union, and through the upcoming Quadrennial Elections we will elect a new Assistant National Secretary who must be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Another Assistant Secretary position will be established to be filled by a woman. We have also lent our fulsome support and endorsement to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and to Constitutional Recognition of our Australian First Nations brothers and sisters, with a Voice to Parliament.
The Union was an early and resolute supporter of the 1967 referendum to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders full citizenship and voting entitlements, and this reform is the next although overdue step.
I encourage all members to support this campaign and to talk to your friends and family about it, and why it is so important. For Union members, it is a simple question of solidarity and of justice. •
Offshore Wind and Renewable Energy to fuel maritime employment
Maritime workers living and working in the Illawarra, Hunter and Gippsland regions are excited by the opportunities and long-term industry development that will come from implementation of Renewable Energy Zones around the eastern seaboard.
With Port Kembla’s maritime infrastructure, steelworks, and proximity to transmission networks, large scale renewable energy projects including offshore wind, green hydrogen and onshore installation of wind and solar infrastructure will ensure sustainable and rewarding employment for waterfront workers and seafarers in the Illawarra for
generations to come.
“We have the skills and the resources to manufacture, build and install clean energy infrastructure in our own country for the betterment of the whole nation,” said the MUA’s Assistant National Secretary, Adrian Evans. “Maritime workers know that the future of our energy needs will be delivered by an ever-increasing mix of renewable energy, but that this needs to promote local employment opportunities and maximise local content,” Mr Evans said.
While the Renewable Energy Zones were legislated by the NSW Government in 2021,
detailed plans are now being put forward by industry that indicate the volume of investment expected in coming years.
“We have a massive opportunity to eventually be using locally produced steel to manufacture wind turbine blades on the shores of strategically located ports, like Port Kembla for example, which can be installed and maintained by locally flagged and crewed vessels. The opportunities and the work this investment will deliver will provide generations of well paid, skilled jobs for our members,” Mr Evans said. “That’s on top of the utility-
scale battery storage equipment, solar arrays and on-shore wind turbine equipment that will come through our ports as more and more of these renewable energy projects come to life,” he added.
Meanwhile, in February the Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen stood alongside Maritime Union officials, local Labor Parliamentarians and the Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, to announce a major offshore renewable energy proposal taking in a large area off the Port of Newcastle reaching from Norah Head to Port Stephens.
Newcastle Branch Secretary Glen Williams was at the announcement and said that “the development of significant offshore wind installations near Newcastle is an opportunity to secure a just transition for Australian workers and communities that have depended on coal for so long. We have the grid infrastructure, the port capacity and most importantly the skilled workforce to make this happen,” he said.
Adrian Evans, who has been working closely with offshore oil and gas workers for many years, highlighted the importance of state governments working together with the Commonwealth to deliver an offshore renewable energy plan that works for the whole of Australia.
“Doing this the right way is going to take a coordinated national plan. We look forward to working with Federal Ministers like Chris Bowen and Ed Husic, as well as state governments and the offshore wind developers to ensure the port infrastructure, the specialised vessels, the skilled crane operators, the seafarers and the trades are available to build and install these turbines safely, efficiently and quickly. We also strongly believe in the potential for Australian workers to start building more of these parts here locally so that Australian content is maximised at every step of the supply,” Mr Evans said.
The announcement complements similar projects in areas like the Gippsland region of Victoria and comes on the heels of many years of advocacy and policy leadership by the Maritime Union of Australia.
The declared area off Gippsland
covers approximately 15,000 square kilometres and runs from offshore of Lakes Entrance in the east, to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west.
Estimates show offshore wind projects off Gippsland could support more than 3,000 jobs over the next 15 years during their development and construction phases, and an additional 3,000 ongoing operational jobs. The wind turbine installations will all be a minimum of 10 kilometres offshore.
Victorian Branch Deputy Secretary, David Ball, attended the Federal Government announcement at Sea Spray, in December. “Our members have honed their skills building some of the world’s largest offshore oil and gas infrastructure. We already handle the turbine blades and towers coming through Australian ports for onshore projects. We are ready to use those skills to build these huge, incredible wind turbines out at sea,” he said.
The MUA has spent many years calling for new clean energy jobs, a just transition for workers employed in hydrocarbon industries, and for a comprehensive plan to decommission and clean up disused offshore oil and gas infrastructure from the sea floor around our coast using the skill and experience of Australian seafaring workers. •
“Maritime workers know that the future of our energy needs will be delivered by an ever-increasing mix of renewable energy, but that this needs to promote local employment opportunities and maximise local content”
Top: MUA Newcastle Secretary Glen Williams at the Newcastle Offshore Wind announcement.
Left: Assistant National Secretary, Adrian Evans
Australian Strategic Fleet Taskforce Update
The Australian Shipping, Strategic Fleet Taskforceestablished by the Albanese Federal Government to advise on the implementation of its preelection promise to revitalise Australian shipping - has entered the second phase of its work after delivering its interim advice to the Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King MP. The Taskforce is due to present a final report to the Federal Government by the end of June this year.
In the wake of the Albanese Government’s election victory in May 2022 and its long-standing commitment to maritime workers, the taskforce was established in October last year and draws together representatives from the Maritime Union of Australia, Maritime Industry Australia (representing shippers), the Department of Defence, and major shipping sector users such as Woodside Energy. The Albanese Government allocated $6.3 million in the current budget to fund its activities.
The MUA’s National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin, has been appointed to the taskforce – of five members representing industry, government, defence and workers – by the Federal Government.
“Prime Minister Albanese has stood alongside MUA members for
many years and has always affirmed his commitment to revitalising our industry, and the activities of the Strategic Fleet Taskforce proves his government is doing the work to make it happen,” said MUA National Officer Mich-Elle Myers.
The taskforce consulted with industry in late 2022, looking to inform its high-level strategic objectives for the fleet. In a recent statement, the Taskforce invited a fresh round of industry consultation, this time calling for “proposals, options or ideas” for the establishment of the fleet.
A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts explained that the Taskforce had provided its interim report to the government, which is now considering the interim advice.
“As part of phase one, the taskforce sought broad stakeholder feedback on a discussion paper that assisted it to undertake an initial strategic needs assessment to help determine strategic needs the fleet could deliver,” the spokesperson said.
“As part of phase two, the taskforce is now asking stakeholders to provide specific advice on how a strategic fleet could be established, as well as any measures to help support Australian shipping more broadly.”
The taskforce is specifically seeking
industry views on four points:
1. the composition of the strategic fleet,
2. ways the fleet could be established and operate,
3. what kind of government assistance would be required to establish the fleet, and
4. whether and to what extent legislation, such as the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012, be amended to support the fleet.
“The purpose of this broad consultation in phase two is to help the taskforce develop options to put to the Government on how to establish the fleet,” the departmental spokesperson said.
It is expected this will provide all interested parties with further opportunities to engage with the taskforce following the phase one consultation and that the taskforce will undertake further specific consultation as it develops its final report.
Assistant National Secretary, Jamie Newlyn, welcomed the quick progress of the taskforce’s work: “The consultation and engagement to date demonstrates how serious the Federal Government is about its promise to Australian seafarers, and we are eager to see tangible outcomes flow from the Taskforce’s work so far,” Mr Newlyn said. •
The Federal Government is making headway on its promise to Australian seafarers to establish a strategic shipping fleet.
Ships’ Crane Fails at Port Kembla
The Maritime Union of Australia continues to monitor safety concerns on break bulk carriers, with another Ship Crane FSWR failure at Port Kembla in February aboard the Pan Ivy.
“Thankfully no crew or stevedoring members were injured, but with these serious incidents involving the catastrophic failure of ships’ gear becoming a more common occurrence, the Union is asking members and delegates to be ever vigilant to safety matters and the condition of all equipment aboard ships at port,” Deputy National Secretary of the MUA, Warren Smith said.
An investigation by AMSA was launched in the aftermath of the incident.
So far, AMSA and the Union have identified the following:
• No maintenance records of ship cranes where available on vessel.
• Incorrect Lubricant was applied to FSWR (non penetrative).
• Ship crane access ladder was non compliant.
• Cargo hold ladder was non compliant.
As a consequence, AMSA condemned all cranes aboard the Pan Ivy.
“This significant and dangerous incident highlights the importance of the HSR’s role in inspecting and requesting documentation and certification of all lifting gear on Flag of Convenience ships. HSRs should request maintenance logs of ships’ cranes and must be involved in any investigations after an incident,” said Mr Smith.
Employers have a Primary Duty of care in the management of risks which should involve assessing all documentation and ensuring it is relevant, accessible & compliant.
“MUA members should remain vigilant as we know many managers who have or will gamble with our safety in pursuit of getting cargo on or off ships as quickly as possible,” Mr Smith explained.
“Companies and their managers must be held to account for ensuring safety standards are met prior to any shipboard operations,” he said.
AMSA Regional Managers and
the MUA continue to meet on these matters, with commitments being made by AMSA for more focus on ships’ cranes and gear.
While incidents like these demonstrate more work needs to be done in this space, the MUA continues to pursue this and apply pressure at a higher level as well as at each Bulk & General port.
Melbourne DP World HSR honoured by comrades
Melbourne HSR Adrian Zammit has been recognised by industry, his peers and WorkSafe Victoria at an Awards Night in February 2022 as one of the state’s most effective and diligent Health and Safety Representatives.
Despite being put under enormous pressure from the employer, DP World, Adrian has done a tremendous job as a HSR and worked hard to keep his comrades safe at work. At one point, DP World even slapped him with a warning for performing his HSR role so effectively.
The Union has since had the warning
removed as it is unlawful for the company to bully an HSR with formal warnings, and the Victorian Branch nominated him for Victorian HSR of the Year. Adrian made it to the final six, an enormous achievement, and was invited to the WorkSafe awards night to celebrate. Adrian received the Highest Commendations from the judges although he was pipped at the post for HSR of the Year.
A great night was had by all 30 men and women supporting Adrian ranging from his family, Branch officials, fellow HSRs, even a Worksafe inspector on his table. Disappointingly, DP World was the only company invited to the event which did not send management representation. It was also the only company to deny WorkSafe media crew onsite to interview Adrian for a video that was played on the night. This pigheaded attitude by DP World highlights the importance of HSRs in our workplaces. Left to their own devices, waterfront employers will run unsafe workplaces and bully people for speaking up. •
Militant global tugboat giant disgraces parent company Maersk and highlights risk of allowing towage monopolies
ACTU Executive condemns Svitzer
A meeting of the ACTU Executive in February resolved to condemn the relentless and ongoing attack by Svitzer on its employees who are members of the Maritime Unions (MUA, AMOU, AIMPE) and further commits continued support in all and any areas of influence & authority.
The meeting also determined to write to the global leadership of AP Moller Maersk – Svitzer’s parent company – and demand Svitzer Australia act consistently with Maersk’s global values, including its commitments to: “respecting fundamental labour rights and constructive employee relations. Constructive employee relations can only exist by respecting the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, which means actively engaging with trade unions” [AP Moeller Maersk sustainability report 2021].
Moved: Christy Cain, CFMMEU
Seconded: Michael Wright, ETU CARRIED AND ENDORSED UNANIMOUSLY
Svitzer’s ransom note shredded by Fair Work Commission
On the cusp of Christmas 2022, Svitzer Towage had threatened to lock out its entire workforce and bring Australian supply chains to a grinding halt. For almost five days in mid November, Australia faced the prospect of economic and social
DEVELOPING: As MWJ goes to print, the Union has received notification Svitzer will formally withdraw their Termination Application at FWC - see next edition of MWJ for more
chaos brought on by corporate pirates at the Danish-owned multinational towage company.
Svitzer receives taxpayer funding from the federal government and provides essential towage services at every mainland port in Australia and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the global shipping conglomerate AP Moller Maersk, headquartered
in Copenhagen. As an arm of this multi-billion-dollar behemoth, Svitzer Australia funnels hundreds of millions of dollars back to Denmark and pays almost no tax in Australia.
However, the Fair Work Commission moved swiftly to suspend the bosses’ planned lockout of tugboat workers around Australia and ordered a return to negotiation for a new employment agreement for the almost 600 seagoing employees of Australia’s largest tugboat operator.
“Svitzer’s bosses have been held to account and against their parent company’s public assertions of having one of the world’s most progressive ESG frameworks, they have been diminished in the most humiliatingly public way possible. Svitzer have demonstrated they are reckless and negligent in their management of a near-monopoly at seventeen Australian ports,” the Union’s National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin, said.
“After five days of holding the entire nation hostage, Svitzer’s outrageous demands have been refused by the industrial umpire,” he added.
“After five days of holding the entire nation hostage, Svitzer’s outrageous demands have been refused by the industrial umpire”
The Australian management team has spent the past four years refusing to finalise a new Employment Agreement to cover tugboat crews at seventeen ports around the country, effectively giving these workers a wage-freeze amidst soaring inflation and massive corporate profits during a COVID-boom for shipping and logistics companies. At every turn, the three maritime unions have sought to drag the management team back to the negotiating table and work on a mutually agreeable outcome.
“The three maritime unions have sought to negotiate and bargain in good faith for almost four years but we have been thwarted in that by a management team hell-bent on triggering harmful disputation and industrial conflict though goalpost shifting and obfuscation. They then sought the nuclear option of termination and a pay cut of 47% for our members, but the Fair Work Commission has given them a significant signal today that this campaign of corporate cynicism and negligence could not be tolerated,” said Crumlin.
“Tugboats are an essential link in the nation’s supply chain which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their work is highly-skilled, often dangerous, and crucially important to the prosperity and security of our nation,”
Svitzer receives public funding to be the on-call emergency towage provider for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and specialist crews from the Port of Newcastle often sail into the night to respond to crises in Australian waters. Crews aboard Svitzer Glenrock and Bullara joined the daring rescue of the stricken Portland Bay cargo ship in July last year. A Svitzer Glenrock crew were also despatched to the South Coast to recover another broken down cargo ship, the Rio Madeira – a ship owned and operated by Svitzer’s own parent company, AP Moller Maersk.
“That’s a responsibility that these workers and their families take very seriously, and it’s why the limited industrial action they had been taking was always low-impact, administrative action rather than lengthy work
stoppages. So the proposed lockout by bosses was always a completely unreasonable and extreme overreaction by Svitzer and it couldn’t be allowed to go ahead,” Crumlin said.
The decision by the full bench of the Fair Work Commission stated:
“We consider that the appropriate course is to make an order suspending Svitzer’s protected industrial action for a period of six months. The effect of this order under the FW Act will be that no party will be able to take protected industrial action for the period of the suspension”
near monopoly status as the only major towage provider in Australia’s biggest ports. Locking out their workers would have wrecked Australia’s productivity, prevented consumer goods and bulk commodities being loaded or discharged at major ports like Botany, Kembla, Melbourne, Newcastle and Brisbane and every Australian business and consumer would have suffered for this delinquent company’s selfish and pigheaded corporate conduct.
This was in line with the Union’s earlier offer made in the same week to suspend its industrial action notices until after Christmas to allow parties to return to the negotiation process while Australian shipping movements could continue as normal during the festive period.
“Svitzer have an opportunity now, and indeed an obligation, to return to the process of good faith bargaining and work on repairing the relationship with their workforce. They can do that by withdrawing their application to terminate the existing employment agreement which is still on foot and take the ridiculous threat of a 47% paycut off the table,” Crumlin said.
For many years Svitzer has enjoyed
The last employer to unilaterally lock out its workforce was Qantas when it grounded its fleet in a dispute with its pilots over ten years ago.
“The actions of Svitzer late last year replicated Qantas’ actions but in fact sought to go far further in the damage to ports and port users, and the flow on effects that might have had on Australian businesses, consumers and our global reputation is extraordinary,” Crumlin said.
Workers’ pay docked for lockout that never occurred
In yet another escalation of an employer-led industrial disputation against Australian tugboat workers by the Danish multinational towage company, Svitzer crews around the country had their fortnightly pay docked in the payroll before the bosses’
Paddy Crumlin, ITF
“Svitzer have an opportunity now, and indeed an obligation, to return to the process of good faith bargaining and work on repairing the relationship with their workforce.”
ITUC delegates from around the world join MUA at Svitzer rally in Melbourne, November 2022
planned lockout of the national work force. This was done in the face of a hearing on-foot at the Fair Work Commission to prevent the lockout from going ahead in the first place.
“This demonstrates how brazen and contemptuous of their employees this company has become. While the Fair Work Commission was asking Svitzer bosses to voluntarily withdraw their lockout, the HR and Payroll team was busily docking wages,” said Paddy Crumlin.
“Clearly they are not happy having achieved a four year wage-freeze, now they’re summarily docking people’s pay for a lockout that hasn’t and hopefully won’t happen yet,” Crumlin said on the morning of the shortchanged payroll.
“This amounts of course to yet another gratuitous act of aggression against their employees who will in all likelihood be returned to work on Friday,” he added, predicting accurately at the time what would transpire in the Commission hearing a day later. “It is consistent however with their intention all along to detonate the industrial bargaining process regardless of any economic and industrial damage this would cause,” he said.
“After offering before the Fair Work Commission to withdraw all union industrial action in exchange for the withdrawal of the bosses’ planned lockout, the MUA wrote to Svitzer managing director Nicolaj Noes in November with a formal notice of withdrawal of all forms of Protected Industrial Action. This meant that the only industrial action on foot was the one being brought on by Svitzer’s bosses,” said Deputy Secretary of the Sydney Branch, Paul Garrett.
“At every turn, the three maritime unions have and will continue to offer a good faith approach regardless of these provocations,” said the National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin.
“This company extracts hundreds of millions of dollars from the Australian economy through a de-facto monopoly operation and sends it offshore to Copenhagen.
Not meeting their obligation to pay these workers, who are ready to work, reflects Svitzer’s view of their obligations here to Australia and Australians,” Crumlin said.
Negotiations undermined by employer-led militancy and procedural sabotage
Workers at Svitzer are represented by three maritime unions, depending on the work performed; the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the Australian Institute of Marine Power Engineers (AIMPE) and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU). The three unions have been working together to negotiate for a fair outcome that will deliver fair pay, safety at work and job security for these skilled and experienced seafarers, however the company has doggedly refused to negotiate in good faith.
“Svitzer representatives have repeatedly turned up to negotiations with sudden and unreasonable demands which they know will derail the negotiation process and undermine the prospect of a mutually agreeable outcome,” Assistant Secretary of the MUA, Jamie Newlyn said.
“In September 2020, on the cusp of agreement they dropped a fresh log of claims running to 30 new demands that the union had been given no
prior warning of. This was done with the obvious intention of preventing any further progress and delaying an outcome while they pursued legal action against the workforce in the Fair Work Commission,” Mr Newlyn said.
Svitzer applied to the Commission in January 2022 to terminate the lapsed Employment Agreement and throw the workforce back on to the basic Award. This would result in pay cuts of up to 47%, the casualisation of permanent roles and the undermining of important safety standards that have been hard-won by workers over many years of negotiation.
International focus on Australian industrial dispute
Transport unions from around the globe met Zagreb, Croatia in November last year where ITF affiliates will now examine the conduct of the Maersk towage subsidiary at a series of highlevel meetings of shipping and dock workers.
“At Maersk’s AGM in 2022, our members and affiliates laid out the unconscionable conduct of Svitzer Australia to the company’s shareholders. Global unions have made the case that the actions of Svitzer Australia are in direct breach of ILO principles of collective bargaining and undermine AP Moller Maersk’s stated corporate values,” Crumlin said.
Assistant National Secretary, Jamie Newlyn, addresses the rally at Svitzer in Melbourne in November 2022
“ITF affliates around the world have expressed their support for Australian towage workers and extend their support to Svitzer towage employees in their ongoing dispute with a management team that are determined to put the company on a course which inflicts self-harm on their own corporate interests but also undermines the efficient, productive throughput of cargo through Australian seaports and imperils the international relationship between AP Moller Maersk and its workers worldwide,” Crumlin added.
Svitzer on notice from Federal Government to change course
With the Australian Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, signalling in the new Labor Government’s first Budget, brought down in October last year, that the former LNP Government’s policy of deliberate wages suppression has been abandoned, the Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke has also moved quickly to legislate changes to the Fair Work Act to bring intractable bargaining disputes to a head. In doing so, he specifically called out militant employers like Svitzer for unilaterally applying to terminate agreements with their employees, effectively putting Svitzer on notice to return to good faith bargaining with its workforce or face a Fair Work Commission with a renewed mission to resolve disputation brought on by rogue employers.
In doing so, the Government is responding quickly to the representations made to myriad Ministers about the negative social and economic effects of litigious or vexatious employers like Svitzer and indeed Qantas. The MUA has led a number of delegations to Parliament House in Canberra since the Federal Election in May 2022 to testify to the impacts and consequences of allowing Svitzer’s management to keep attacking its workforce in these ways. •
To coincide with Svitzer parent AP Moller Maersk’s March Annual General Meeting, a delegation of representatives from the MUA joined with comrades from FNV Havens (the Netherlands) and 3F Transport (Denmark) and the ITF’s Maersk Network to bring the Svitzer campaign to the doorstep of the world’s largest shipping company in Copenhagen, Denmark.
With a front page and full page ad in JyllandsPosten published by the MUA on the day of the AGM warning shareholders about the misconduct of Svitzer’s Australian managers, Danes were left in no doubt about the reputational harm being caused down under by their representatives.
Picking up on the ads were other media outlets, who wrote about the ‘fiercely critical’ advertisement published by an Australian union in a conservative newspaper that reports on finance and business news.
“The shipping giant Maersk receives harsh criticism from trade unions for its subsidiary Svitzer’s conflict with the workers in Australia,” wrote Business Editorial journalist, Emil Bo Rask, in Denmark’s oldest newspaper, Berlingske.
“The citizens of Denmark must realize that although Mærsk is a national icon and are good
corporate citizens in Denmark, they are not anywhere else in the world,” Assistant National Secretary Jamie Newlyn told Mr Bo Rask.
At a press conference on the doorstep of Maersk headquarters, Mr Newlyn called on shareholders to call Svitzer’s Australian managers into line.
“Svitzer and Maersk’s behaviour is an attack on the principles of collective bargaining and is contrary to the social values of both Australian and Danish people. These managers should be called to heel by their Danish parent company or shown the door,” Mr Newlyn said. •
READ THE DANISH ADS VIA: www.mua.org.au/maerskAGM
MUA joins fight for the right to protest and strike
The Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch leapt quickly to the defence of imprisoned environmental activist Violet Coco against the backdrop of the branch’s long running campaign to oppose new laws that criminalise legitimate protest action.
Sydney Branch Secretary Paul Keating said “Violet’s imprisonment is the direct result of the implementation of draconian and anti-democratic laws by the NSW Parliament. As soon as these laws were passed it became inevitable that NSW Police would enforce these repressive laws and the Judiciary would apply custodial sentences, meaning the State of NSW is once again imprisoning people for legitimate forms of protest. A benchmark of authoritarianism.”
Violet Coco was jailed for 15
months in December 2022 for her role in a protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was the first person to be sentenced under draconian antiprotest laws enacted by the State’s parliament in April last year.
Eventually, bail was granted by a separate magistrate while she appeals the sentence.
Mr. Keating said “the State and the ruling class including multinational corporations have at their disposal virtually unlimited resources with which to pursue the endless accumulation of profit at the expense of first nations peoples and working-class communities. The continued expansion of carbon intensive industries and the destruction of the environment has been repeatedly demonstrated through scientific consensus as a global catastrophe.”
“The working class has always relied upon political, industrial and social protest to achieve outcomes and oppose destructive policies, almost always hostile to the position of the ruling class. We must continue supporting protest as a legitimate democratic expression, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.”
At the time of sentencing, the MUA declared the union would fight for Violet’s release, and will campaign through its political networks to overturn anti-protest laws altogether.
Coco was charged, prosecuted and imprisoned after she blocked a lane of traffic on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge during a protest in April 2022, one of a series of similar of climate action demonstrations which conservative governments sought to clamp down on last year. •
ITF will back union action against
UK Government’s anti-strike laws
International transport unions have added their voice to growing condemnation of the UK Government’s ruthless attack on workers’ right to strike and called on all parties to reject the draconian anti-union legislation.
Paul Nowak, General Secretary of the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC), said the Minimum Service Level bill was “wrong, unworkable and almost certainly illegal” to force people to work who had voted for industrial action. He said unions would fight the bill every step of the way in parliament and in the courts.
The TUC is asking people to sign a petition demanding the prime minister changes his position and protects the right to strike.
“The UK Government has launched a full-scale attack on working people and trade unions,” said ITF President Paddy Crumlin. “It’s attempting to force the Minimum Service Level bill through Parliament. Its blind ambition is to give ministers sweeping new powers to restrict the right to strike.
“Instead of engaging with workers who sustain vital public services and negotiating in good faith to solve the legitimate disputes which have led to recent strike action, Rishi Sunak and his anti-union henchman Business Secretary Grant Shapps are intent on attacking workers fighting for a fair pay rise during the worst cost of living crisis in decades.”
Rail Minister Huw Merriman has admitted the Government is playing politics with people’s lives. He told parliament’s Transport Select
Committee that strikes had a price tag for rail companies of up to £25m a day and said it would have cost the UK less to settle the dispute months ago.
Legal action is likely if the government persists with its questionable new bill given the very clear breaches of international labour and human rights law. The proposals are illegal because they infringe people’s fundamental right to strike. The ITF will support the UK TUC and affiliate unions in any legal action they pursue.
ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said: “UK ministers, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have repeatedly tried to justify the bill as having the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and as being similar to laws in other European countries. But those statements have recently been exposed as false.”
Under ILO Convention 87 (which the UK has ratified) and the principles of freedom of association, the right to strike can only be restricted in extremely limited circumstances, according to Ruwan Subasinghe, the ITF’s Legal Director.
“In public services of fundamental importance, no government should have such broad powers to restrict the right to strike beyond ensuring people’s basic needs,” Subasinghe said. “But under UK proposals, ministers alone would decide what constitutes a minimum service level — they would have absolute discretion resulting in scores of workers being forced under threat of legal penalties to abandon strike action.
This is certainly in breach of the international law.”
The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has consistently held that: “the imposition of minimum services must not result in strikes becoming ineffective in practice because of its limited impact, thereby creating the impression among workers that a strike has come to nothing because of overgenerous and unilaterally fixed minimum services.”
“The UK Government is running around trying to look like it is doing something about the current spate of strikes,” said Stephen Cotton. “But all it is doing is making a bad situation worse and, in the process, crushing the UK’s reputation as one of the world’s great democracies. There’s no two ways about it, the right to strike is fundamental.” •
“Withdrawing your labour is often the only thing left when you are faced with the desperation and frustration of political corruption and corporate greed.”
Photo credit: © Paul Mattsson/reportdigital.co.uk
The full automation of port terminals does not bring improvements in either the productivity of the terminal operators nor in the ports that host them. This is the main conclusion drawn from an exhaustive and comprehensive independent report produced by the Centre for Innovation in Transport (CENIT) on behalf of the International Dockers’ Council (IDC) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
According to the authors of this study, fully automated terminals do not represent better productivity rates than traditional terminals. In addition, CENIT experts point out the high vulnerability to cyber-attacks, greater exposure to hackers and, consequently and a higher rate of insecurity for goods and ports.
Sergi Saurí, director of CENIT, explained that “in the port sector it has always been assumed that full automatization would bring better productivity rates but, based on the current real experiences, there is no evidence to support that.”
CENIT also point out the high level of upfront capital costs and additional
power concentration on the part of the concessionary companies, which implies a price control, and consequently, a loss of sovereignty and control by the public administrations and national governments.
Likewise, automation negatively impacts economic and tax sustainability, entails practices that affect free competition in that they grant more power to shipping companies, improve revenues only for their shareholders, and raise the danger of monopolistic practices. This also leads to a decrease in rates, and therefore a reduction in port revenues leading to a significant loss of resources.
Regarding the social sustainability of the workforce, the study points to negative impacts for port automation including the loss of thousands of jobs for both terminal workers and the supply and auxiliary companies, and the lack of adaptability to rapidly respond to unexpected situations.
These types of terminals, located in more socially advanced countries are guilty of social dumping and practices where remote maintenance tasks are
An emergency fund to support transport workers and their unions in Türkiye and Syria in the wake of the devastating earthquakes has been launched by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).
Two huge quakes struck in the early hours of Monday 6 February 2023, flattening thousands of buildings, crippling transport infrastructure and leaving tens of thousands of people dead, hundreds of thousands injured and homeless. With the epicentre near Gaziantep in south-west Türkiye, the quakes impacted a wide area across the two countries. The ITF and ETF immediately pledged to help.
“We must collectively support the incredible emergency response being coordinated by transport unions in the region following these catastrophic earthquakes,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF.
“The ITF Seafarers’ Trust has already coordinated with unions to get emergency relief into some of the hardest hit areas, but as people face the gargantuan task to rebuild their lives – and for many after the loss of loved ones – there is so much more that needs to be done.”
“We are asking for donations from affiliate unions around the world, their members and any friends who are able to help,” said Frank Moreels, President of the ETF. “Money raised will be used for immediate humanitarian support in Türkiye and Syria including food, blankets and logistics and support to address mid-term needs in both countries to strengthen unions capacity to rebuild and recover.”
The situation continues to evolve and the ITF and ETF remain in close contact with affiliates in Türkiye
New study reveals ports automation is unproductive, costly and high-risk
INTERNATIONAL: Global Unions band together to support Turkish and Syrian comrades after devastating earthquake
and the region to find out the best ways they can offer support.
The ITF Seafarers’ Trust has already sent an emergency grant of GBP 30,000 to Turkish affiliate, LİMAN-İŞ, to buy provisions including heaters, blankets and food in Türkiye. Another GBP 20,000 has been sent to the Lebanese Seafarers’ Union via the ITF Arab World Office – they have bought blankets and food packs and delivered them by truck to the port of Latakia in Syria, for distribution through trusted union contacts.
Donate online now: www.mua.org.au/earthquakefund
ITF condemns storming of government buildings in Brazil and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice
The ITF has condemned the storming of Brazil’s Presidential Palace, Supreme Court and National Congress in January by neo-fascist mobs and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“The terrorist acts which occurred in Brasilia by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro are an attack on democracy. The destruction to the Presidential Palace, the National Congress and the Supreme Court were an assault on buildings that represent the three pillars of political power in Brazil. Opposition forces among Brazil’s economic and political elite are complicit in this attack, and their attempts to stage a coup must be exposed,” said Edgar Diaz, ITF Regional Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The ITF is calling for those involved in the attack on 8th January their financiers and their political supporters be brought to justice, to ensure social peace and the rule of law in Brazil.
The ITF fully supports the popular and democratically elected government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the Brazilian people who wish to live in peace and democracy. Lula
is a great trade unionist, and is a great politician of the people. The extreme right know that his agenda to redistribute wealth downwards threatens their existence, and their cowardly attacks on the institutions of democracy will be resisted by working people. Freedom and democracy will always be defended by trade unions,” said Paddy Crumlin, ITF President.
One year on, Ukraine workers deserve peace
At the one-year anniversary of the onset of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the world’s transport unions are urging Russia and Ukraine back to the negotiating table to broker a lasting peace.
“Peace is urgently needed by Ukraine’s 400,000 transport workers. After a year of death, disruption, and despondence – Ukraine’s transport workers deserve peace,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). “The ITF and ETF have stood steadfast in solidarity with the working people who have been drawn into this conflict. This is not their war.”
European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) President Frank Moreels said: “Even in times of war, our Ukrainian transport workers kept their country on the move, saving millions of their compatriots› lives by transporting them away from battle zones or by supplying essential goods. Hundreds of these workers lost their lives or lost their children to this war. Ukraine’s transport workers have sacrificed everything. We pay tribute to them.”
Tens of thousands of transport workers have volunteered for or been conscripted into the armed forces of both Ukraine and Russia. Local unions report 9,000 railway workers have enlisted in the Ukrainian military in last year, while a further 8,400 seafarers have counted amongst the country’s ranks at some time in the last year.
353 railway workers have been killed in the fighting or its crossfire so far, say Ukraine’s railway unions. 819 rail workers have been injured, 11 taken prisoner by Russian forces and a further 32 remain ‘missing’. Heartbreakingly, 200 children of railway workers are left without parents.
“We mourn the loss of all transport workers taken by this horrific war and we pay our respects to their families, their communities and their unions,” said ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton.
“Peace must be restored so transport workers and the people of Ukraine can rebuild their lives and plan for the future. As long as war rages on, the toll taken on workers will only rise.”
Livia Spera, ETF General Secretary added: “One year ago, when the war began, the world was shocked. This conflict has changed the lives of Ukrainians forever. But its impact goes much further, affecting all working people throughout Europe, and transport workers especially.”
“This war benefits no one, and the EU should further explore all avenues available to them to stop the war in Ukraine,” she said. •
“Peace is urgently needed by Ukraine’s 400,000 transport workers. After a year of death, disruption, and despondence –Ukraine’s transport workers deserve peace” PADDY CRUMLIN
ITF Inspectorate Reports
Millions of dollars of unpaid wages have been recovered by ITF Inspectors around Australia, showing that Flag of Convenience ships have nowhere to hide their abuses and theft. Here are just two examples:
An international livestock carrier ship, the Yangtze Fortune, was arrested in Portland, Victoria by the Australian Federal Court in December 2022. In the meantime, AMSA and the ITF worked with the Admiralty Marshall to support the crew after the ship’s owner failed to pay their wages or meet its obligations under international maritime law.
The ship, which is registered under the Flag of Liberia but which operates a trading route between Australia and China, had been anchored near Portland since October and is subject to an abandonment notice lodged with the International Labour Organisation. The ship is also subject to Australian Federal Court proceedings brought by commercial creditors from Singapore to recover debts owed to them by the ship’s owner.
After many weeks at anchor near Portland, provisions aboard the ship were running low and many of the crew were desperate to return home. The ITF arranged for as many as possible to be repatriated, but some crew stayed with the ship while court action and the ship’s sale process commenced.
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Australian Inspectorate Coordinator, Ian Bray, said that the more than 30 crew members, all of whom hail from the Phillipines, had been abandoned by their employer on the stranded ship.
“These workers are already owed, collectively, more than a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid wages, and while the court action is on foot they must stay with their ship despite the ever diminishing prospect of receiving what is owed to them” Mr Bray said.
Shipboard documentation shows that the crew received only one third of what they were owed in October, and the ITF’s investigation has also revealed that the crew’s wages payments in both September and August were made using monies set aside for workers’ leave entitlements and the company’s provident fund.
ITF Australia’s Assistant Coordinator, Matt Purcell, who provided support to the crew while they were alongside the wharf in Portland, said that five members of the crew had already clocked up eight months aboard the vessel and were desperate to return home to their families. “These vulnerable, exploited crew face the prospect of spending months longer aboard this ship in dreadful conditions just to get what’s already owed to them, or the choice of returning home after 8 or 9 months away with nothing to show for it,” he said, in December.
Discussions with the crew manager, ship owner and the Flag State revealed that the company held little hope of trading out of its financial problems. The ITF and AMSA worked with the Flag State and the Admiralty Marshall appointed to handle the sale of the ship to find a just outcome for the seafarers stuck aboard in Portland. An initial group of crew, approximately 20, were permitted to depart Portland in January, however 16 crew were required by Australian law to remain on board to respond to any emergencies. By late March, all crew were
finally repaid their missing wages and repatriated home with the assistance of the ITF.
Ian Bray said that the Yangtze Fortune is representative of a broader problem in the livestock shipping industry where crews go unpaid and ships operate on the precipice of insolvency.
“We believe there is an epidemic of borderline insolvency amongst the operators of these livestock ships as they repeatedly feature among the worst cases in our inspections around Australia and internationally,” Mr Bray said.
In the face of meddling, obstruction, and brazen breaches of international law alongside the NCIG coal terminal at Kooragang Island in Newcastle last November, the ITF Inspectorate delivered justice for a crew of international seafarers aboard a coal ship operated by Orient Line Corp, headquartered in Japan.
ITF inspectors performing random inspections at the Port of Newcastle discovered a shocking case of wage theft and human rights abuse aboard the bulk cargo ship Costanza, with crew members denied their legal right to shore-leave and robbed of US$66,500 (AU$100,000) in wages owed to them over three months.
As a consequence of the ITF inspectorate’s findings, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) detained the ship in Newcastle and enforced compliance with Australian and international laws, delivering wage repayments and a repatriation
plan for crew members at the next port-call, along with shore-leave in the meantime for crew, some of whom have been aboard for almost 11 months.
One crew member, on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the conditions aboard the ship, told the ITF inspector Dan Crumlin, “I really want to get off and just to walk around, just to touch a tree and refresh, this will be very good”.
The ITF also arranged for access to free, high-speed WiFi via Seafarer Connect, a project by the Tas Bull Seafarers Foundation to provide reliable, fast and free WiFi to visiting seafarers.
“Just being able to provide the means to call home or join a video call with family members on the other side of the globe is a massive boost to the mental health of seafarers who’ve been treated so poorly and basically imprisoned on this ship”, said Mr Crumlin.
More questions than answers about shore leave remain amidst farcical scenes alongside Kooragang Island wharf
When the captain of the ship gave all-clear for crew members to take
shore leave, the Mission to Seafarers charity was contacted to arrange pick-up of crew. At the time of pick up - three crew members were waiting – the Mission to Seafarers bus failed to arrive. When the Captain contacted Mission to Seafarers for an update, representatives from the charity told him they had cancelled the pick-up after being instructed not to provide transport for the crew of the Costanza under any circumstances. Mission to Seafarers would not or could not identify who gave that order.
The issue of seafarers being denied shore-leave is under heavy scrutiny by the ITF and AMSA, with there being no legal basis for preventing crew from taking time off while at port to disembark and enjoy some respite away from the ship. AMSA has repeatedly threatened rogue shipping companies and agents with legal action if they refuse to permit crews access to shore-leave while berthed in Australian ports.
Speaking after the shore-leave fiasco was eventually resolved, the ITF Australian coordinator Ian Bray said “This disgraceful episode leaves significant, unanswered questions about the fundamental rights of seafarers being denied in the Port of Newcastle as well as the role of organisations like Mission to Seafarers in delivering or
failing to deliver the means to access such leave entitlements.”
Mr Bray also expressed disappointment with the role played by coal terminal operator, Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG); “We had an obstructionist and uncooperative terminal operator in NCIG hampering our progress. We said all along that we are not here to visit NCIG, we don’t need to talk with NCIG, we just need them to provide safe access and egress to the ships so we can talk to the people that matter, the seafarers!”
The ITF Inspectorate in Australia called on AMSA to investigate who at the Port of Newcastle, NCIG or the shipping line itself interfered at the last minute in the lawful right of seafarers to access shore-leave, a human right for international seafarers conferred within the Maritime Labour Convention, an international legal instrument managed by the United Nations through the International Labour Organisation.
“These questions need answers and whilst they remain unanswered, uncertainty exists about the Port of Newcastle, NCIG and indeed Mission to Seafarers’ ability or willingness to uphold and protect basic human rights under the international laws to which Australia is a signatory,” Mr Bray said. •
Crew of the Constanza (L) with ITF Inspector Dan Crumlin in Newcastle and crew of the Yangzte Fortune (R) with ITF Inspector Matt Purcell in Melbourne
Union members in every industry have won significant changes to improve the lives of women at work since last International Women’s Day.
While we know there’s more to do to close the gender pay gap and achieve full gender equality at work, union members in the maritime sector are proud to have seen the result of decades of campaigning come to fruition in just twelve short months.
Ten of the big changes are:
1 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave enshrined in the National Employment Standards for all workers, because no worker should have to choose between their income and their safety.
2 Expansion of paid parental leave from 20 weeks to 26 weeks by 2026, a step towards closing the gender pay gap and supporting women’s workforce participation.
3 Stronger equal pay laws and gender equality as an object of our workplace laws to better value women’s work.
4 Access to multi-employer bargaining, allowing women in female-dominated industries such as aged care and early childhood education and care to negotiate
together to win fair terms and conditions.
5 A 15% interim pay rise for agedcare workers.
6 Stronger rights to request flexible work and challenge its refusal.
7 Outlawed pay secrecy clauses, another step towards closing the gender pay gap.
8 A new positive duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
9 New protections from discrimination in our workplace laws.
10 A minimum wage increase of 5.2% in 2022, lifting the pay of low-paid and award-reliant workers, the majority of whom are women.
Workers have been fighting for many of these changes for decades: it’s amazing the difference it makes to get rid of a government that is hostile to women.
“Union members are proud of the huge gains made for women in the workplace over the past year. These changes will have a practical and positive impact on the lives of working women and their families,” said ACTU President Michele O’Neil.
“This list of gains reflects how unions have always been crucial
to creating better, safer and fairer workplaces for women,” she added.
The Maritime Union of Australia’s National Officer and Women’s Representative Mich-Elle Myers credited the victory in Parliament to union members standing up for women in workplaces and during EBA negotiations.
“Changes such as these don’t happen on their own – union members in every workplace have stood together and fought alongside one another to win them. With the gender pay gap in the broader economy still at 13.3%, there is more to be done but we are fixing the problem workplace by workplace, in successive enterprise agreements,” Mich-Elle said.
We know that when women have the power to negotiate collectively, they win better pay, conditions and protections. Over the past year, union women have won crucial stronger bargaining rights.
Figures from ‘ABS characteristics of employment’ (August 2022) indicate that women who are members of their union take home on average $1400 per week (median), compared with just over $1,000 for women who were not members of their union, indicating that union membership can play a strong role in lifting wages for women. •
Paid Parental Leave
reforms progress through parliament
The expanded Paid Parental Leave is another step closer as the Federal Parliament discussed the new laws Canberra during parliamentary sittings in February and the Bills passed the Senate in early March.
The scheme will significantly increase the overall amount of leave available while also making it more easily shared between parents, including on a flexible basis.
The new laws follow a long and concerted campaign by union members and are long overdue.
It will finally advance Australia from its status as the second-worst paid parental leave scheme in the developed world, which is a direct driver of women’s lower workforce participation and unequal caring responsibility and causing women’s earnings to fall by 55 per cent on average in the first five years of parenthood.
The reforms give more families access to the payment, gives parents increased flexibility in how they take leave and encourages parents to share care to promote gender equality.
The ACTU will continue to campaign for parental leave to be paid at the full replacement wage and to bring forward the staged increase in leave, which even under these improved laws, will improve gradually until 2026.
“This increase from 18 to 26 weeks in Paid Parental Leave is a great step forward for Australian parents, particularly working women,” said ACTU President Michele O’Neil.
“Women have waited far too long for these reforms, which make family decision making a much simpler and fairer equation and will drive increased workforce participation by women,” she added.
Mich-Elle Myers congratulated the efforts of union members on the waterfront and in seagoing industries for joining the campaign.
“MUA members around Australia should be proud of our long and hard-fought campaign to increase the minimum entitlements under the government’s scheme,” Ms Myers said.
“Paid parental leave should be used by both parents and this new scheme is a long overdue improvement,” Ms Myers added.
The ACTU has indicated it intends to continue campaigning for improvements to the scheme, including by lifting the payment rates and by ensuring superannuation is paid on Parental Leave.
The changes will come into effect for parents whose children are born or adopted from 1 July 2023, while single parents will now be able to receive the full 20-week entitlement, up from 18-weeks currently. •
MUA women lobby Canberra on clean energy jobs
National Officer Mich-Elle Myers represented the MUA at a recent Clean Energy Council roundtable discussing pathways for women in the clean energy sector and ensuring the voice of blue collar women workers is heard and listened to in the development of these new sectors.
Mich-Elle and Newcastle member Ange Moore also joined the Federal Government and comrades from the ETU at a Women in Energy and Climate Symposium in Canberra to continue this work on behalf of the entire industry.
“These burgeoning industries provide an excellent training and skills development opportunity for women members of the MUA to pursue rewarding and secure employment in the clean energy jobs of the future,” Mich-Elle Myers said •
MUA Tasmania Branch member and Women’s Rep, Sarah Russell
Vo ice that can’t be silenced
Strikes and petitions – there have been many. In 1936 there was the maritime strike in the Torres Strait and the Day of Mourning in Sydney. In 1939, the Cummeragunja walk-off. In 1946 the Pilbara strike, in 1957 the Palm Island strike, and in 1965 the Newcastle Waters walk-off.
There are many more I could speak of.
Our people have made many statements and petitions as well. The petition to the king in the 1930s, the Yirrkala bark petitions in the sixties, the Larrakia petition to the queen in the 70s, and the Barunga Statement in the 80s, just to name a few. And in this decade, the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
All of these actions were taken by our Elders in the hope that we could achieve fairness, equality and, generously, a unified future with broader Australia.
All of these statements and petitions called for political representation – we have learnt over and over again that the key to our hopes is to establish a Voice that is heard.
But there’s another pattern throughout the history of our struggle that must be acknowledged.
Every time Indigenous people have built a political Voice on our own – representation that has been capable of speaking up collectively and unapologetically; that has been capable of holding politicians to account for cruelty, negligence and ignorance; that has had the capacity to inform the parliament on how they can get things right – we have been silenced.
From the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association in the 1920s, which was silenced through brutal intimidation by authorities who had complete control over our lives; through the Aboriginal Advancement League,
An elected Voice to Parliament will allow Indigenous solutions to be heard, says MUA National Indigenous Officer Thomas Mayo. This is the second and final instalment of Thomas’ 2022 Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture titled, “Walking on our land our way – The momentum towards a constitutional right to be heard.”
the NAC, the NACC, and FCAATSI, to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission which was established in 1988. All of them split up, ignored, defunded and destroyed.
ATSIC was not corrupt, as some naysayers continue to say today. ATSIC was doing excellent work. And yes, it had its problems – but all human organisations will. Instead of supporting the Indigenous leaders of the time as we improved ATSIC’s composition and processes, the Howard Coalition Government, with the support of Latham’s Labor Opposition, chose to purposely and tactically demonise and vilify that Voice until they had softened the Australian public up with enough lies to repeal it in 2005.
I want you to think about what has happened since then.
In 2007, we saw the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory suspended so that the government could turn the Australian army on its own most vulnerable citizens – an intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory based on lies. Of course, the intervention failed to improve the lives of Indigenous people. In fact, it made things worse.
There should have been a political cost for such a heinous act. But as always, the cost was ours alone.
The cost was families ripped apart. The cost was Black men stigmatised nationally. The cost was more children displaced. And the impacts from the Intervention are still felt all these years later and we had no voice to parliament to set the record straight.
We have also seen hundreds of millions of dollars cut from frontline community services, with the billions spent in Indigenous affairs siphoned off
before reaching our people who need the money the most.
And as we wonder why Closing the Gap reports continue to tell a story of paternalistic policy, misdirected funds and missed targets, the gap widens, communities languish and the wider public ask where all this money is going.
Yet Tony Abbott told the Australian people that our poverty is a lifestyle choice.
Governments don’t rise or fall because of their track record in Indigenous affairs. There is no accountability for how they have failed us.
A Voice to Parliament will amplify our solutions instead of the Parliament amplifying our problems for political gain and to create cover for their failures.
There are some who say Indigenous people already have a Voice because there is a record number of Indigenous people elected to parliament. These same people are saying that a constitutionally enshrined Voice is only for ‘elite Blacks’ – merely woke symbolism that will do nothing to address the issues in our remote communities.
I say to them, you are dead wrong.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need a Voice that is protected from being silenced by hostile governments. We need a Voice where our representatives are not chosen in preselection processes run by the Greens, Labor, or the Coalition. We don’t want self-appointed Voices either, who are backed by right wing think tanks. We want a Voice with representatives who are chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We want to be responsible for holding our representatives to account, according
INDIGENOUS PART 2
to our culture and values and the priorities that we determine. And we want the rule book – the constitution –to guarantee that what we say will be listened to, transparently, and with due respect.
In a representative democracy, being heard by all parliamentarians, and all Australians, in the centre of decision making, is the most practical thing we can do.
And there is nothing more lasting and powerful than establishing a representative body by a vote of the Australian people at a referendum. There can be no greater mandate.
When the Australian people say YES to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, they are saying to parliaments for all time to come that what we say about our community and country must be listened to with the respect that we deserve.
For far too long, naysayers have told us to lower our sights and dampen our aspirations for change because of some lazy speculation that the Australian people won’t support real change for our mob. I believe this is a miserable caricature of who the Australian people are. We cannot allow this low bar politics to hold us back. We must believe we can be better.
Vincent Lingiari did not settle for rations. When offered a few bob to break the strike, he didn’t lose sight of his dream of equality and land rights. Why should we accept less than a simple constitutional right to be heard today?
Our aim is for fairness. And that is not a bar too high.
If the catch cry of this nation is advance Australia fair, then we must advance our constitution so my people are heard.
If we are a nation that is for a ‘fair go’, then we must act it.
We cannot aim low.
We must not dampen our aspirations for change.
We must work hard, as Lingiari did.
We must have courage, as Lingiari did.
We must unite people across cities and towns, across religions and ethnicities, across the length and breadth of this great country, as Lingiari did.
Prime Minister Albanese has suggested the question in 2023 may be this:
Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?
It has been my experience that the answer will be a loud and resonant Yes.
Through the Referendum Council process of 13 regional dialogues that began in late 2016 and ended in May 2017, to that question of a constitutionally enshrined Voice, firstly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people said a loud and resonant YES.
From the passionate debate and the hard work to reach a consensus at the national constitutional convention at Uluru on 26 May 2017; to a constitutionally enshrined Voice, the 250 delegates from all parts of the southern sky, again, said a loud and resonant YES.
When I took the sacred Uluru Statement canvas throughout the country, rolled up in a patched together postal tube, starting right here, in the golden grass of Gurindji Country, on to the red dirt in the Pilbara, to the sandy grounds of Lombadina, and to a community BBQ in Marrickville in a future prime minister’s electorate; from remote communities to the big cities; in large conferences and small town halls; all across the country in the first years of the campaign – the Australian people said a loud and resonant YES.
Thanks to young advocates like Teela Reid, who took on a dismissive prime minister on national TV; hard working mob like Dean Parkin, who has
MUA Bosun Vicki Morta with comrades from across the country at the Freedom Day Festival
Watch Vicki Morta’s video message to all MUA members in the lead-up to the Voice to Parliament referendum: mua.org.au/vickimessage
to our supporters; the people who are here today, Kenny Bedford, Samara Jose, Dee Edwards, Stacey Ketchell, Jade Ritchie, Daniel Rosendale, and on the list goes – grass roots advocates who have never given up hope – and the unions and corporates, progressives and conservatives, and the courageous Gurindji community themselves – a grassroots movement of people from across the political spectrum are building the momentum for change once again.
The answer to the question, “Should Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the dignity and respect of a Voice?” WILL BE a loud and resonant YES!
I say this to all Australian people as I approach the conclusion to this memorial lecture.
Let us learn from that great man Vincent Lingiari. Let us learn from the strength of his legacy: this generous, caring, loving people who have followed in his footsteps to build this beautiful community.
And I say to fellow First Nations people, let’s back ourselves in to win this referendum – let’s take a hold of this once in generations opportunity as our Elders did in 1967. Let us step up in our communities, our town and cities, wherever we are. Let’s have courage like Lingiari did to take our kartiya mates by the hand as we lead them back through the constitutional door together.
This is Rosie Smiler, a very good friend of mine. She is a strong Gurindji woman and a leader like her grandfather, Vincent Lingiari.
Several years ago, Rosie told me she wanted to write a children’s book because she wanted the karu, which is the Gurindji word for children, to learn about her grandfather’s story.
Last year, we published this book, “Freedom Day: The story of Vincent Lingiari and the Wave Hill Walk-Off”. Now children from all parts of the country have read the book and are learning from it.
Rosie and I want to finish this lecture by honouring the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who have ultimately led our march back to our rightful place on our Country. And we want to honour her grandfather, by asking a karu from this community to read his story.
This is Ailani. She is a Gurindji girl, the great granddaughter of a very important woman, Nancy Warungali, who bravely walked with Vincent Lingiari 56 years ago.
Listen now to Ailani, as she finishes this first lecture on her Country.
As you listen to her, I want you to think about what a wonderful thing it would be for our generation – the adults in our karu’s lives – to provide a constitutional guarantee that when Ailani grows up, she will be proud to be Australian, because part of what it means to be Australian, is the gift that is her Voice.
I say, this we can do – if we have courage, like Lingiari did.
“I am proud of my grandfather’s legacy. The Gurindji leaders of today are continuing that legacy. We are building a strong, vibrant community. But now let me tell you about some unfinished business – we have our land, but we still need to have a Voice.”
“We won some land back but, sadly, despite everything we tried, we weren’t able to live on our land how we wanted to after all. The politicians wanted Gurindji to live the kartiya way. But Gurindji just wanted to look after our families, raise our own cattle and practise our culture on our land without being told what to do.
“By the late 1980s, years of bad advice and kartiya taking advantage of us had taken its toll. Some politicians were helpful, but most never listened to Gurindji leaders. They made decisions in parliament that harmed us. Many of our young people started to lose hope. In 1988, my grandfather died.
“That’s why, in 2017, we wrote the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We want to have a Gurindji voice, coming together with all other First Nations – a powerful voice – so kartiya can hear us.
“Our voice can tell Australia the truth. Our voice can help make treaties. Our voice should be in the rule book – the constitution – as it should have been long ago.
“The Uluru Statement is an invitation to all Australian people to walk with us, like you, our mates, walked with us Gurindji before.
“A mixture of courage, determination and helpful mates, like you, is how my grandfather got a handful of sand.
“Now, will you walk with us again?” •
INDIGENOUS PART 2
MUA Indigenous Officer and Uluru Statement from the Heart signatory Thomas Mayo with MUA members at the Freedom Day Festival
Ngadjon-Jii • North Queensland Branch
“The Uluru Statement was an invitation to all Australians to share in the history of our First Nations through recognition and respect. The Voice is an opportunity for all of us to walk together in reconciliation”
“We need a Voice to Parliament and we need it now. We don’t need to wait any longer, it needs to happen now, we need to start the healing process. Everyone needs to join together and make this happen”
Yuin • Sydney Branch
“I support the campaign
100%. We need a Voice. How are you supposed to say ‘No’ if you don’t have a voice?”
Yuin and Wiradjuri • Sydney Branch
“Constitutional recognition should have happened ages ago, so I’m hopeful that Mr Albanese will be able to follow through with what he has promised. The Voice to Parliament will be a big step towards helping people who are doing it tough.”
MUA SUPPORTS A Voice to Parliament
The Union builds on its long standing solidarity with Australia’s First Nations peoples by supporting their call for a Voice to Parliament, enshrined in the Constitution
The Maritime Union of Australia has a long and proud history of working alongside and in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to advance their interests, pursue equality and fight to reverse the injustices of colonisation. The obvious and logical next step is to support the grassroots, nationwide campaign by Australian First Nations people to deliver Constitutional recognition and deliver a Voice to Parliament that can advise the government of the day on legislative matters that affect them.
The long and steady campaign for these reforms began decades ago, of course, but has entered the general public consciousness only in the last couple of years as it became an election commitment of the now Albanese
Federal Government. In the build up to the 2022 federal election, it was the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart that came out of the First Nations National Constitutional Convention which set the way forward for reconciliation, recognition, and a new method of enfranchisement that would endure from generation to generation.
To break down barriers between different groups of people, MUA Indigenous Officer and signatory to the Uluru Statement, Thomas Mayo, often explains the principle of the Voice through the language of trade unionism. “In order to make an agreement, first you need a voice. Workers shouldn’t sign an agreement with an employer without being consulted, but for consultation first you need a structure and a mechanism for people to be
properly and legitimately heard. That’s the Voice to Parliament,” he said.
It’s also why previous organisations or structures established by government without constitutional backing, like the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) or the National Indigenous Council (NIC) came to fail and were eventually disposed of within short periods of time. “When politicians are left to choose the Indigenous representatives they are going to listen to, they tend to get it terribly wrong,” Mr Mayo points out.
Mayo has been a prominent figure in the Voice campaign and plays a key role in the Voice to Parliament Working Group advising the Federal Government in the lead up to the referendum and on practical measures that the Voice
MUA Indigenous Officer, Thomas Mayo, with the Voice to Parliament Working Group and Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP, Special Envoy for Implementation of the Uluru Statement for the Heart Senator Pat Dodson, and Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus KC.
should deliver for First Nations peoples.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has accused politicians and sections of the media of running a “scare campaign” over the Voice to Parliament, as right wing political parties and conservative agitators continue to peddle myths and spread fear and misinformation about the Voice.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that bogus legal fears had been promoted by the same groups who were opponents of landmark Indigenous affairs developments over many decades.
“Wik, Mabo, the Apology to Stolen Generations – I sat in that parliament throughout the entire Howard Government years being told that if we had an apology, it would divide the nation,” he said. “Does anyone think that the Apology divided the nation now?”, the Prime Minister asked.
The draft constitutional amendment, unveiled in late March, would allow the Voice to make representations to both the parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“I think there is a pattern here of people in the Liberal Party and others that are just trying to confuse Australians with questions that just make absolutely no sense at all,” Thomas Mayo told journalists after the draft amendment was published.
Mr Mayo emphasised the Voice would have no power to force parliament or the government to act on its advice. “The fearmongering about the High Court is another tactic to try and put people off … we work on the rule of law in this country, anybody can take anything to court,” he said.
To build support and consensus within the Maritime Union’s rank and file, Mr Mayo has been travelling to worksites and branches around the country to address the membership at stoppies on the aims and principles of the Voice, as well as answer any questions they have.
“Like all of the major social justice reforms throughout history, the MUA rank and file is supporting the Voice campaign because as unionists we approach these questions from that position of solidarity and camaraderie which underpins everything we do,” Mr Mayo said. •
“...as unionists we approach these questions from that position of solidarity and camaraderie which underpins everything we do”
HEREMUA, TO STAY
25 years on from the Patrick Dispute
In April of 1998, the Patrick Stevedores corporation sacked all of its stevedoring workers in the dead of night.
Security guards wearing balaclavas accompanied by barelyrestrained attack dogs appeared on the wharfs of Australia. They were there to lock dockworkers out of their place of work.
In its determination to deunionise its workforce, Patrick’s had undergone a “restructuring”, and recruited non-union workers to take the places of union members.
Patrick’s, with the backing of the Howard Government, had declared war on the Maritime Union of Australia – the MUA.
In the weeks to come, MUA members – the wharfies – would face the full force of Patrick’s and the Government. The wharfies did not back down, they did not waver, and they won.
This is their story.
The Howard Government had strong unions like the MUA in its sights when it introduced new industrial relations laws in 1996. These laws sought to weaken the role of unions as the collective organisations of workers.
Cabinet papers released from this period suggest that the Howard Government was planning for a showdown with the MUA from early in its first term.
Why the MUA? Well, the Maritime Union has a strong history of activism and solidarity – wharfies have come together in their union time and again to win vital rights for their industry.
We all know what Howard thought of that.
In the months leading up to the Maritime Dispute, Patrick’s put extensive plans in place for its campaign against the MUA – encouraged by the Howard Government, and with its active support.
There was even a secret operation to recruit a non-union workforce and to try and secretly train them in Dubai.
The MUA was tipped off about this plan.
In an act of global solidarity among Maritime Workers, the International Transport Workers’ Federation remonstrated with local authorities, and the visas of the trainees were revoked.
But Patrick’s were determined –they wanted the MUA off the docks.
Managing Director of Patrick’s at the time, Chris Corrigan, later said that his aim with the lock out was: “as in all business pursuits, the aim of enhanced returns by improving business practices and client service” We all know what that is code for.
After the lockout of wharfies began, the MUA sprang into action. Community pickets were organised and a legal challenge launched.
The MUA was led by the legendary John Coombs – and its strength came from its members, wharfies all across Australia who refused to be intimidated.
The response in support of the wharfies was emphatic. Across the country unionists from a variety of trades and industries joined MUA members to protest their treatment. ACTU President Jennie George played a leading role in organising and supporting these community actions.
This community support was even more important after the second week of the struggle, when a series of injunctions began to be handed down banning MUA members and officials from the pickets.
Trades and Labour Councils put together phone trees, and
whenever Patrick’s was trying to move cargo in or out through the community picket lines, activists were mobilised on short notice to reinforce the protests.
Union after union leant their support, both in personnel, and financially. Union members and community supporters popularised the chant across the country: “MUA: here to stay!”
Eventually, public opinion put pressure on Patrick’s and a court decision meant the MUA members returned to work.
It had been found that Patrick’s had
conspired with others to illegally sack its workers for being union members.
Wharfies – proud union members –triumphantly marched back into their workplaces.
The MUA’s victory in 1998 was an inspiring example of how unions can win even against the toughest of opposition.
For a generation of unionists, it was a defining struggle that proved the strength of our opponents, and the power of our solidarity.
Conservative governments, and anti-union bosses, they come and go.
But the MUA is here to stay. •
You can watch the special MUA documentary on the dispute at mua.org.au/1998
“never again – in our lifetime – would a government or an employer think they could destroy a union by the use of mercenaries and dogs and chains and balaclavas to remove a workforce in this country”
– JOHN COOMBS, FORMER NATIONAL SECRETARY OF THE MUA
Alan Richard Curry AOM –A Champion of the Working Class
the Clerks membership with their own Clerical Branch and elected Officers. On 3 June 1982 a resolution was passed at a Stop Work Meeting, whereby Sydney Clerks became admitted to the WWF, and ultimately other Clerks in Ports all around Australia decided likewise. Alan put his job and the livelihood of his family on the line to support sound, democratic Union Policy.
and its values and said that he should report with honesty and integrity, work always with confidentiality, respect others and ensure that all Association members were given a “fair go”.
Alan was a wonderful comrade and a friend to so many. He passed peacefully with his family beside him and in circumstances of his own choosing - as always, Alan put his family before himself – a trait that he exhibited his whole life.
Alan worked several types of jobs as a young man, including working at Dunlop’s Rubber at Drummoyne where he was a Delegate for the Federated Clerks Union (FCU), and later commenced work as a Tally Clerk on the Sydney waterfront in 1965. He worked in the AEWL Clerical Pool and later as a permanent clerk for Timber Tallying before returning to the ‘Pick Up’.
Alan stood for Office as a Vigilance Officer (VO) and was elected in 1978. When his 3-year term expired in 1981 the FCU advised him that he could be appointed for another 3 years. Alan told the FCU that he had been previously elected by the Shipping Clerks Section and he was only interested in contesting an Election from the Rank & File members of the Union. There then evolved a dispute between the Sydney Rank & File Clerks and the FCU with Alan supporting the Clerks and the FCU terminating his membership and that of other clerical members on the Clerks Committee of Management.
The Sydney Clerks, by large majority, resigned from the FCU and directed their Union dues to sustain an Office in Millers Point for Alan and the Rank & File Clerks Executive and to pay their wages to represent the Clerks. This ‘Limbo’ arrangement continued until the Waterside Workers Federation (WWF) offered
Alan was re-elected as a VO every successive 3 years from 1978 until he took Redundancy from the Industry in November 1991. Alan’s successive terms in Office were characterised by hard work, diligence, proper preparation, honesty, and total accountability to the membership. Alan always worked co-operatively with other Union Officials and Delegates, but he had a clear sense of what was good Union policy and was fearless in advocating those views. He worked tirelessly to assist the membership during his terms in Office and this continued after he retired, with his organisation of Tally Clerk functions every 3 months at the ‘Bowlers Club’ in York St, Sydney and his regular emails and updates reporting on the wellbeing of other Tallies and updating members on the activities of the MUA Sydney Veterans.
Upon retirement in 1991, Alan continued to help his son’s Stephen and Gregory in their separate businesses in the Construction Industry by volunteering his time and labour, and never accepting any reward. Alan also loved Rugby League and Touch Football and played ‘Touch’ for many years, including with teams in the Public Service Comp and with other Waterside Workers and Tallies in the Domain and at Wentworth Park.
Alan also had a deep interest in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and in particular the 5th Field Ambulance Association (5th FAA). Alan was the Honorary Secretary of the 5th FAA from the date of his retirement (1991) until his passing. He produced a quarterly Magazine that was distributed to the Association’s membership, as well as throughout ADF establishments throughout the Commonwealth dealing with information and issues relevant to the 5th FAA and Veterans. Alan was committed to the 5th FAA
In May 2013 Alan was awarded the ‘Order of Australia Medal’ in recognition of his service to Veterans and their families. Above all else, despite his working achievements and his wonderful, selfless volunteering work for others, his family came first, as seen by his love for wife Ruth and his support for his son’s businesses as well as the shared life experiences with daughter Julie.
It is unique to have known and worked with a person who is universally liked, admired, and respected by work colleagues, union members, sports mates, army Veterans and Retirees, but that is the way we all felt about Alan Curry. He did so much for so many and never turned away anyone who needed a hand or a ‘fair go’. He will be sadly missed by his family, many friends, and members and Officers of the MUA. Vale Alan Curry, a principled man who cared very much about the well-being of working-class people.
Bill Giddins Former Clerks VO & MUA National Industrial Officer
In memoriam –Dr Harold Lewis
Dr Harold Lewis, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) from 1977 to 1993 has died in hospital. Our thoughts are with his wife Andrea.
Harold was a deeply committed trade unionist and labour supporter, becoming a branch chairman of the
Clerical and Administrative Workers’ Union (now the GMB) at the age of 21. He had a long history within the ITF, starting in 1955 as an editor and translator, and then acting as personal assistant for three previous general secretaries: Omer Becu, Pieter de Vries and Hans Imhof. He was Assistant General Secretary of the ITF from 1967-1977.
“Key trade union leaders all over the world knew and respected Harold very much,” said David Cockcroft, his successor, General Secretary of the ITF from 1993 to 2014. “Harold was determined to see all ITF affiliates treated the same, wherever they came from. The people who owe the greatest debt to the work he did throughout his ITF career are the rank-and-file transport workers who were always his first priority.”
Harold steered the ITF and its affiliate unions through a stormy period as the trade union movement saw its influence eroded by government repression in major economies, and the rise of globalisation and the collapse of the Soviet Union both made protecting worker rights ever tougher.
“Harold built ITF union solidarity beyond Europe and the US,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF, “and the strength of the ITF’s regional structures and influence globally owe an immense debt to him.”
“He was passionate in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and perhaps his greatest legacy will be his role in coordinating dockworker unions, including my union the Maritime Union of Australia, as they led the way in enforcing sanctions by refusing to unload South African ships.
“Harold’s progressiveness and political and industrial maturity, together with his friendship with Jim Hunter and Tas Bull forged campaigning and organising initiatives at the ITF that continue to protect and advance the rights and lives of transport workers around the world today. His commitment to the ITF was maintained in his retirement including continuing to serve as a trustee to the ITF pension fund,” said Crumlin.
The ITF News of April 1993 noted: “It was absolutely typical of Harold, that
once having declared his intention of retire at 60, that is exactly what he did and no amount of persuasion could change his mind.” At his retirement in 1993, Enzo Friso, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trades Unions (ICFTU, now part of the ITUC) said:
“Harold is a very unusual person in the trade union movement – he only speaks when he has something to say.”
Following his retirement, Harold maintained his interest in the ITF and particularly in its traditions and history. Despite coming from a working-class background and having no first degree, he earned his PhD from Warwick University in 2003 for work documenting the history of the ITF.
“Even after his retirement, Harold worked in the interest of transport workers. His documentation of the ITF’s history and the struggles of transport workers and their unions will be an important reference for generations in our movement,” said current ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton.
“There is no doubt that Harold had an enormous influence on the development of the ITF during his tenure,” said Cotton. “He was famous for cycling to work in all weathers and that kind of fortitude and determination characterised his period at the ITF and has left its legacy ever since.”
Vale Edgar Frances Griffiths “Tassie Ted”
Keith Rea – SNSW Wharfie
In the early hours of 20 February 2023, a good shipmate passed away from gangrene poisoning.
Teddy was 86 years old. Tassy was well known by many, a good shipmate, my best buddy of 70 years.
Rest in peace, buddy.
Graeme Milburn AM OAM
It’s with great sadness the MUA SNSW Branch inform the membership of the passing of Retired WWF Wharfie Keith Rea.
Keith was well known not only on the waterfront but amongst the broader Port Kembla community. He will be missed his many comrades.
Keith was a loving husband to Jewel and father to Nicole. Adored father-in-law to Andrew and Poppy to Grace, Hannah and Tom.
Keith will be sadly missed by all his family and friends.
WWF and Labor Rep, Stewart West remembered
Former Waterside Workers
Federation Branch President and Labor Member for Cunningham in the Federal Parliament, Stewart West, passed away in March, aged 89. Born in Forbes, NSW, and a long time waterside worker and union activist, West volunteered as a campaign manager for Rex Connor (a key political ally in Parliament of Gough Whitlam) while also representing his comrades as the President of the Port Kembla branch
Michael Cross, SNSW Branch Secretary
of the WWF from 1972 to 1977. Concurrently, between 1968 and 1977 he served as Secretary of ALP’s Cunningham Federal Electorate Council.
West was elected to Parliament at a byelection caused by the sudden death of Connor in 1977, and he went on to serve as a Minister in the Cabinets of Prime Minister Bob Hawke, variously as Minister for Administrative Services, Minister for Housing and Construction and Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs during the mid1980s. He was instrumental in the environmental campaigns to save the Franklin River in Tasmania and Kakadu in the Northern Territory. Locally, he was instrumental in the development of Labor’s Steel Plan and he helped diversify Port Kembla with the grain handler.
As the only member of the Socialist Left faction of the Labor Party serving in Cabinet in the Hawke-era, West was often at loggerheads with the more conservative Right faction of the ALP. This came to a head when he resigned his Ministerial position in defiance of a Cabinet decision on uranium mining, highlighting again the principled anti-nuclear position of both the Illawarra community he represented and the anti-war membership of the WWF.
“Stewart West represented the very best of maritime and waterside activists. Born on the cusp of the Second World War and working as a young man amidst the nuclear threat of the Cold War, he stood for peace and nuclear non-proliferation like all of his many of his principled comrades in the WWF,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. “He also saw that it would be workers, unions and through them, Labor Governments, that could ultimately deliver the landmark environmental protections that would preserve Australian wilderness areas for future generations.”
West was re-elected at six general elections between 1977 and 1990 before retiring in 1993.
Vale Joe Crumlin –Waterfront Legend
Australian Merchant Navy in particular.
He was also an active historian on our military history and the First World War, particularly concentrating on the Gallipoli campaign, an historical site he visited on numerous occasions. In that work he added much important and respected detail to the courage of the Australian effort and the politics and leadership that underpinned those sacrifices. Many Australian merchant seafarers were at Gallipoli, a high number dying including Simpson (who was a member of the Seamen’s Union) of Simpson’s Donkey fame.
On behalf of the Crumlin family, thank you to the many members and comrades who reached out with kind and supportive messages on the passing of my father Joe Crumlin.
Joe was a legend on the Sydney waterfront and was thrilled when the Sydney branch celebrated that with the award which he and other legends of the waterfront received a number of years ago.
A Bondi boy, sweep and life member of Bondi Surf Bathers Lifesaving club and School Captain of St Anne’s at Bondi, he went to sea just after the war as a deck boy out of Sydney and by his retirement, left the industry as a foreign going Master having put himself through his own certification at sea as an AB and subsequently as the coxswain on the famous Sydney pilot cutter the Captain Cook.
He was an officer with Adelaide Steamship company and came ashore during our school years working with Waratah tugs as a skipper. He was highly regarded as a salvage master and was involved in many outside salvage jobs over his years.
He was a close friend to many on the waterfront including our Union’s Federal Secretary Pat Geraghty and Presiding Officer John Benson who were shipmates in their years at sea and remained friends up to their passing.
He was an active delegate in the Seamen’s Union of Australia and subsequently on the Executive of the Merchant Service Guild.
A great raconteur and historian, in later years he was a sought-after speaker on the Australian maritime industry in general and about the
He was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his historical work and was very active in the RSL movement, at one time playing a central role in military archives.
During the 1998 waterfront dispute, Joe – together with my brother Kieran and other members of our family – was arrested on the Patrick picket line in Sydney. He was a passionate, erudite, and lifelong advocate and activist for trade union rights and the rebuilding of the Australian Merchant Navy. He was very active with many of our veterans in the Merchant Navy Association and other seafaring bodies.
His sons Paddy, Kieran and Joseph and grandchildren Dan, Jed and Rory, and son-in-law Kris along with many others in our extended family have been or are members of the MUA following generations of involvement on the Sydney waterfront.
Greatly loved and respected by all who knew him, he remained active and lived independently right up to his passing after surgery last week with the support of his family including daughters Kate and Erin and son Sean, all known to many within our industry and union and the progressive movement.
He greatly loved our mother Erin, another Bondi girl, and held her memory central to all his activities and achievements following her passing a number of years ago.
Vale Joseph Robert Crumlin. Seafarer, trade unionist, and man of family and community now resting peacefully after a long voyage.
Paddy Crumlin MUA National Secretary
Over 10 years experience supporting workers in the seafaring, waterfront and maritime services industries
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Teekay on notice from union as MUA members work to recover crashed Army Helicopter
Civilian seafarers aboard the ADF’s auxiliary ship ADV Reliant were instrumental in the recovery of an army helicopter forced to ditch into the waters off of Jervis Bay in late March.
The Taipan MRH-90 was carrying out counter-terrorism exercises with 10 military personnel, including Navy clearance divers and Army Special Forces, on board when it was forced to ditch. Towed to shore by Navy boats, it languished in shallow waters at Iluka Beach until the ADV Reliant arrived to successfully recover the wreckage.
The ADV Reliant is operated by Teekay Shipping on behalf of the Australian Defence Force and is crewed by Australian civilian seafarers represented by the MUA.
The 102m-long vessel, formerly called MV Reliant, is the latest addition to Australia’s National Support Squadron, responsible for providing various services to the RAN fleet, being added in September 2022. Other vessels in the squadron include the Mercator, Stoker, Sycamore, Besant and ADV Ocean Protector. A new vessel Guidance will also be added to the auxiliary fleet and will be on the coast within months bringing the fleet to nine vessels.
“MUA members are once again demonstrating their professionalism and expertise in the helicopter salvage operation on the South Coast,” said the Union’s National Deputy Secretary, Warren Smith.
“Australian seafarers are amongst the most highly trained and skilled seafarers in the world and can deal with the widest variety of functions in an auxiliary defence role or any other circumstance, so that’s why it is so unacceptable for Teekay Shipping, the labour contractor, to be unlawfully engaging seafarers as casuals and breaching basic award conditions” he explained.
The practice of engaging casuals continues to occur on vessels
operated by Teekay Shipping that have yet to finalise enterprise agreements and the union has now successfully stopped this practice.
Teekay also operates the Ocean Shield on behalf of Australian Border Force and the Coral Knight on behalf of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
“In recent months the MUA has been successful in resolving a dispute on the Besant and Stoker Sycamore, winning back payment of allowances that the company had refused to pay. The daily allowances on both vessels are now being paid appropriately and will be backpaid to the commencement of the agreements on both ships,” Warren Smith outlined. •
National MUA Terminal Conference
Wharfies from container terminals around the country converged in Sydney at the MUA ITF Conference Centre for a significant conference of delegates representing every major employer and port.
The Conference, held across three days in mid-March 2023, was an opportunity for wharfies to compare working conditions and agreements, develop industry-based policy resolutions and set out the Union’s priorities for the future of waterfront work with a focus on Same-Job SamePay Same-Safety principles that will underpin the future of bargaining at the various employers’ sites.
“The conference looked closely at the new bargaining laws legislated in the past 12 months by the Federal Government and the potential difficulties of the new intractable bargaining provisions in the Fair Work Act,” said Deputy National Secretary, Warren Smith. “Members and delegates are conscious that bosses in our industry are among the most enthusiastic abusers of any loophole and will exploit any weakness in legislation, so we will remain vigilant to any attempted abuses or manipulations of the new laws,” Mr Smith warned.
“Delegates representing workers at every Australian container terminal passed resolutions and entered into campaigns that will deliver wage justice for maritime workers amidst soaring inflation caused by profiteering, safety demands to protect wharfies and seafarers from unscrupulous shippers and terminal operators, and for industrial solidarity between terminals but also for other maritime workers
including those employed by Svitzer Towage working in our ports, said Adrian Evans, MUA Assistant National Secretary.
The Conference also grappled with the emerging economic and industrial headwinds that are being brought to bear on the workforce through postpandemic rationalisation by shipping lines and terminal operators.
“The Union continues to monitor the manipulations of global shipping volumes by shipowner cartels which – as global container volumes reduce to pre-COVID levels – will disproportionately impact Australian workers,” Warren Smith said [see feature story overleaf].
“The reorganisation and rationalisation of shipping cartel structures to protect profit margins at the expense of workers’ livelihoods demonstrates once again the vulnerabilities of Australia’s economy and the significant policy blind-spot for the independent analysts at the ACCC and the Productivity Commission,” Smith explained.
DP World will be the first EA campaign following the Terminal Conference, with Patrick, FACT, VICT and Hutchison EAs all expiring in 2025. Adrian Evans will lead the DP World EBA negotiations, which will be a testing ground of new industrial laws.
“We are fighting for industry-wide outcomes and an industry approach to stevedoring. It is vital for workers from different companies to work together because we all know the bosses are collaborating to undermine our union every day,” Mr Evans said. •
Key Resolutions passed by the Conference:
• INTERNATIONALISM - We support the ongoing international work of the union and affiliations to international global union federations and the building of strong regional and bi-lateral relationships of solidarity. We are proudly ITF and proudly IDC and recognise that global capital must be confronted by a global labour response of organisation and solidarity.
• INDUSTRY BARGAINING STRATEGY
- Conference endorses a coordinated national bargaining strategy across all sectors of the container terminal industry. Our bargaining strategy and struggles must be linked with the highest degree of coordination and unity.
• INFLATION AND WAGE OUTCOMES - We are living in a high inflation period caused by the profit gouging of employers including those in the maritime industry. Accordingly, conference supports the longstanding MUA position of bargaining for above inflation pay rises. We reject the false idea that wage increases for workers is the cause of inflation.
• SAFETY AND DELEGATE NETWORK
- Conference supports establishing a safety and communication network to be set up for ongoing communications between ports, companies, branches, and workplaces. Communications will be aimed at forwarding outcomes of safety struggles and coordinating the work of the union around all safety issues and industry campaigns.
• ULURU STATEMENT AND VOICE TO PARLIAMENT – Unanimous support for constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Nations’ peoples and solidarity in their struggle for recognition and respect through a Voice to Parliament.
STEVEDORING www.mua.org.au 33
Australian terminal operator suffers catastrophic collapse in container volumes
International shipping companies’ recent decision to schedule a massive volume of blank sailings to Australia will have a particular impact on Australia’s third largest shipping terminal operator.
This will throw the waterfront industry into disarray and cause significant economic hardship for hundreds of Australian workers, the MUA has warned, with the latest example of shipping company cartel behaviour bolstering the case for government intervention into Australian supply chain security.
One of Australia’s three terminal operators, Hutchison Ports, has advised the Union it expects the impact of the shipping companies’ massive withdrawal of sailings to its two terminals – in Sydney and Brisbane – will last four months. The huge reduction in volumes will drive potential job losses and necessitate significant wage reductions and hardship for entire workforce.
Terminals operated by DP World in Fremantle, and Melbourne, and VICT in Melbourne, are also affected.
“This is a prime example of persistent market failure in Australia’s supply chains, with Australian workers once again bearing the brunt of international cartel conduct on our coast and on our waterfront,” said Paddy Crumlin, the MUA’s National Secretary and a member of the Australian Federal Government’s Strategic Fleet Shipping Taskforce.
“During COVID, this cartel behaviour took the form of rampant price gouging and scheduling and vessel allocation manipulations that created a false scarcity
amidst the global pandemic. Now, they’re slashing sailings and leaving a massive vacuum behind to exert pressure once again on Australia’s supply chains and working people.” Mr Crumlin added.
The Maritime Union of Australia has repeatedly drawn the attention of government, industry, small business and the community to the economic, social and sovereign risks associated with international shipping companies’ systematic abuse of our position at the far end of global supply chains.
“Independent economic advisory bodies like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Productivity Commission have repeatedly failed to take seriously these risks or incorporate measures to mitigate them in their advisories to government,” says Warren Smith, the Deputy National Secretary, and the national official with industrial responsibility at Hutchison Ports, where the issue of the blank sailings hit the hardest.
Impact on workforce ‘severe’
The Union has advised members that the mitigation measures Hutchison Ports over the coming months will be severe.
“The choice, however, is stark and the only option was to mitigate to protect our jobs, wages and conditions in the long term,” said Mr Smith.
“The company’s preferred position was to have fifty redundancies and return the workforce to the pre-EBA roster wins, by putting everyone back to Phase 1 arrangements, which was the initial startup position of the business in 2013”,
Mr Smith explained. “Once there are redundancies the rosters collapse and the hard fought-for permanent rostered jobs would simply disappear forever,” he warned.
A yard meeting in late March was hotly debated on the floor but the workforce understood the ramifications and overwhelmingly endorsed the measures, however it was not without some reservations, considering employer Hutchison’s poor form in dealing with workers over many years.
Union continues to advocate for ACCC and Productivity Commission reform
The blatant cartel conduct of shipowners and terminal operators’ obsession with union bashing at the expense of protecting their own businesses and their workforce from the manipulations of shippers must call into question the long-term failure of supposedly independent advisory bodies to Federal Government, such as the ACCC and the Productivity Commission, to identify the real risks and inefficiencies of our ports, the Union’s leadership has warned.
“The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Australian maritime
logistics last year was yet another example of the insurmountable biases of this supposedly independent organisation,” National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said. “They have steadfastly refused to engage with our repeated, serious warnings about Australian supply chain security,” he added.
The Union also wrote as recently as September 2022 to the ACCC raising these concerns, especially with Part X of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 which permits cartel conduct in Australia by international shipping companies.
The MUA’s proposed legislative amendments would strengthen compliance with industry service standards and force international container shipping companies to meet community expectations for supply chain security and eliminate blatant profiteering.
Productivity Commission bias against workers’ right to collective bargaining lashed by academic review
The Maritime Union of Australia has welcomed the findings of an academic review by The Australia Institute and economist Dr Phil Toner of the Productivity Commission’s recent inquiry and draft report into Australian Maritime Logistics.
The Australia Institute report, Lost at Sea, challenges the methodology and conclusions of the Productivity Commission’s analysis of Australia’s container port system and finds that the Commission’s exercise was ideologically motivated and failed to properly interpret its own data.
“Maritime workers and their families face a constant stream of political abuse from conservative politicians, often as a smokescreen for the failure of port and terminal operators to effectively manage essential, monopoly assets in the public interest.
The Commission’s inquiry into port productivity was commissioned before the 2022 federal election by the former Coalition Federal Government. Its draft report was released in September.
In contrast to the picture painted by the Productivity Commission in support of the former Government’s relentless attacks on trade unions, by several indicators container ports have demonstrated superior and globally competitive productivity performance, including:
• 7.8% annual compound growth in number of containers handled.
• 3.6% annual compound growth in containers handled per hour of work (more than twice average productivity growth in the broader economy).
• 5.9% annual compound growth in equivalent container units handled per crane.
“This analysis demonstrates what many have known about the Productivity Commission all along. They were tasked by the former Morrison Government with attacking port workers and blaming them for the supply chain crisis brought about amidst a perfect storm of a global pandemic and the Liberal Government’s years-long neglect and mismanagement of Australian seaports,” said the National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin.
The Productivity Commission’s claims that Australian ports are not ‘technically efficient’ rests on a faulty methodology which assumes that ports should minimise use of productive inputs (including land, capital, and labour) to meet any given volume of traffic. But in the real maritime logistics industry, other criteria – including ship
turnaround time, and ability to respond to fluctuations in demand – are more essential for shippers.
“Even the Commission’s own abstract modelling confirms that Australian ports can be as efficient, or more efficient, than global benchmarks,” said Lost at Sea’s author, Dr Phil Toner.
“By more practical measures such as turnaround time, flexibility to accept fluctuations in volume, and safety, Australian ports are both efficient and productive,” he added.
The report was especially critical of the Productivity Commission’s blanket assertion that unspecified industrial relations practices in Australian ports are the source of purported ‘technical inefficiency.’
“The Productivity Commission report provides no hard evidence that workplace practices are reducing productivity in our ports,” Dr Toner added. “Its assertions are unbalanced and reflect an ideological predisposition to blame unions rather than being based on careful empirical analysis.”
“Maritime workers and their families face a constant stream of political abuse from conservative politicians, often as a smokescreen for the failure of port and terminal operators to effectively manage essential, monopoly assets in the public interest. The Lost at Sea analysis shows that the Productivity Commission was used as a political tool by an incompetent and delinquent government in its final, inauspicious months to desperately smear workers instead of taking due responsibility for Australia’s pandemic supply chain crisis,” Mr Crumlin said. •
The Maritime Union’s members built the offshore Oil and Gas industry over many years and as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, it is critical that MUA members are engaged to fully decommission those disused offshore O&G assets and then transition our maritime skillsets into to the new energy projects in offshore wind. In so doing, the future of the Union’s seafaring membership will be secured for generations to come.
There has been a mountain of work going on in the background around decommissioning and the development of the emerging offshore wind industry.
In January, the Union’s representatives met with several key worldwide offshore wind developers in Copenhagen at meetings facilitated by the ITF and our affiliated unions in Europe. While there, the Union met with the Danish Energy Agency who explained that in their experience, for every 1GW of offshore wind around 9,500 jobs are created - many of which include wharfies, divers, towage and dredging crews, and port services workers. This means approximately 1500 seafaring jobs created throughout the lifecycle of each 1GW of offshore wind.
To demonstrate the significance of the upcoming Offshore Wind boom, there has been over 50GW of projects that have been announced so far around the country, with new announcements occurring regularly. Not all of those projects will be developed due to the competitive bidding process, but it is clear there is a massive volume of work on the horizon for MUA members in this new industry. This underpins the importance of the Union’s decision to
invest considerable time and energy campaigning for local content, local jobs and in meeting with developers and State and Federal Governments to ensure a just transition for maritime workers employed in the hydrocarbon industries into rewarding and longterm renewable energy jobs.
Santos ruling clears up consultation requirements for future decommissioning projects
Late last year the Federal court ruled that oil and gas operators must fulfil requirements to make “genuine and rigorous efforts” to consult with First Nations people as part of the consultation process which is required prior to projects commencing. The Union has welcomed the decision.
“We applaud our First Nations brothers and sisters for their efforts on this ground breaking decision. We support consultation for traditional owners on all oil and gas projects, including decommissioning,” said the Union’s Assistant National Secretary, Adrian Evans.
“Since this ruling, there has been some improvement for the Union and our members. After writing several letters to offshore operators and engagement with the regulator seeking consultation prior to decommissioning work kicking off, we have now been contacted by Woodside for comment on three projects prior to commencing,” Mr Evans said.
“This has allowed us to argue on the scope of project activities to come, as well as the safest and most environmentally friendly way to decommission jobs. We expect more genuine consultation from operators to flow from this ruling,” he explained.
Upcoming work: Woodside’s Griffin & Stybarrow Fields
Petroleum giant Woodside has engaged in consultation with the MUA on two significant decommissioning projects recently, both of which were previously operated by BHP.
Woodside expects to need between two to six vessels to complete
Adrian Evans, MUA Assistant National Secretary
decommissioning of the and removal work (Multi-purpose, Heavy Lift, and Support vessels) at Griffin Field and has noted that some of this work has already been contracted to Technip’s Deep Orient. This is expected to commence at the end of 2023 for six to eight months.
The Stybarrow Field decommissioning activity includes plugging ten production wells and removing subsea equipment that was once connected to the onsite Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel.
A semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) will be required to plug wellheads supported by 2-3 vessels. Other work will need either a Heavy Lift or Construction vessel and anchor handlers for towage. Woodside still needs to nominate the operator for work completion, but it is likely that the same vessels will be used for this project as the nearby Griffin Field decommissioning project. This decommissioning project will take approximately 13 months.
“These projects alone highlight the scope of decommissioning work to come. Once consultation of these projects is complete with all relevant persons, Woodside will lodge these environment plans with NOPSEMA,” Mr Evans said.
Planning for WA’s first dismantling facility
In March, representatives from the Union met with the Centre of Decommissioning Australia (CODA) to get a briefing on their plans for WA’s new decommissioning facility after the State government boosted funding for further research on this subject mid-last year.
While the exact location of the decommissioning facility will be announced in the coming months, at this point the most obvious location is in the northwest of Western Australia, as this area sits in the greater proximity of where most of the ageing oil and gas facilities and associated infrastructure will need to be recovered from.
Decommissioned offshore oil and gas materials contain more than just steel and concrete. There is a significant volume of harmful materials to be recovered from these structures including plastics, naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMS) and ferrous (rusting) metals. Western Australia’s decommissioning facility will be first of its kind in Australia, purpose built
with the entire surface membrane protected to prevent any leakage or spills into the soil.“A purposebuilt facility like this has enormous potential for the Union’s members, both on the wharves and in seafaring jobs,” said Assistant National Secretary, Adrian Evans.
“Esso have been calling for a decommissioning facility to be located in Victoria as well which we support as it could also serve as a future offshore wind construction and decommissioning yard in the region,” Mr Evans explained.
CODA has spent time researching and visiting other decommissioning yards around the world to gather information on how to best establish a domestic facility with capabilities for the scale of decommissioning work to come. •
Sydney Ferries EBA endorsed by membership, Labor Government committed to Freshwater class
Members employed at Sydney Ferries voted up a new agreement late last year on the cusp of a State Election campaign that was dominated by public debate about the future of ferries on Sydney Harbour.
After a years-long safety campaign by Sydney Branch Deputy Secretary, Paul Garrett, the NSW Labor Party committed to retaining the Freshwater class ferries for the Manly run. At the same time, a brewing public debate about domestic manufacturing highlighted the problems of imported, cheaply built ferries bought by the former Liberal and Nationals Government.
• Asbestos parts found in engine room
• Wheelhouse windows defective
• Engines stalled when put into reverse
• Too tall to fit under bridges
• Steering control failure
• Rudders detached
• Propeller shaft vibrations
• Poor quality fixtures
• Thin, warped steel and cracked welds
• Leaking stern glands
• Windows shattered during heavy seas
These failures ran the complete spectrum from design and engineering faults through to materials and parts quality on to manufacturing defects.
Ferry workers were quick to inspect, identify and highlight the problems with the new boats, which included so called River Class vessels for the Parramatta service and Gen II Emerald Class vessels destined for the Manly run.
“The Freshwater class vessels should never have been mothballed or taken off the run in the first place, as they have many years of service left in them. However the future question of their replacement should not have been resolved with the cheapest possible alternative,” said Paul Garrett, Sydney Deputy Branch Secretary.
Working alongside the then Opposition, the MUA mounted a successful public argument for the restoration of Freshwaterclass vessels on the Manly run and prosecuted safety failures and design faults on the new vessels which are still being rectified by the operator, Transdev.
“We were very clear with the former government and Minister that due to their new ferries’ inherent design flaws and the obvious manufacturing defects which further limited their capacity in heavy seas, that we would only operate the new boats when it was safe to do so,” Mr Garrett said.
The fight to save all four Freshwater ferries is far from over, and with the election in late March of a new Labor State Government, the Union is hopeful of a proud future for ferry workers and the vessels they work aboard.
“This was always about delivering a safe, reliable and dependable service for our passengers. Under the Liberals, safety and reliability came a distant second to costcutting and privatisation. We look forward to working with the new Transport Minister on improving this vital public service and ensuring future vessel acquisitions once again prioritise safety, reliability and comfort rather than buying the cheapest possible vessels, ” Mr Garrett said.
Jasper Thatcher stands for Manly
Joining the fight to save Sydney Ferries from further privatisation and cuts, 24 year old MUA deckhand, Jasper Thatcher, put his hand up for the Labor Party in the Manly electorate.
Jasper grew up in Manly and joined the ferries as a General Purpose Hand when he finished highschool. A proud Kamilaroi man, Jasper is also studying towards a law degree alongside his shift work aboard the Freshwater ferries he has been campaigning to save during the election.
“I decided it was important to provide a working class perspective for voters in the Manly electorate and to provide an authoritative voice on the ferries campaign when voters came to decide who to support at the ballot box,” Mr Thatcher said.
“After years and years of Coalition cuts and rampant privatisation of our public services, even many of the more conservative voters on the Northern Beaches could see that they were becoming worse off under the Liberals,” he added.
After two days of counting, the sitting Liberal Member, James Griffin, had suffered a 7% swing against him on primary votes.
Mr Griffin had flipped and flopped over the past three years in his position on the Freshwater ferries, and was punished at the ballot box for failing to stand up for his community.
“At one point Mr Griffin said he would save the Freshwaters, then he supported keeping them but only on weekends, but ultimately he failed to persuade his colleagues in the Liberal Party to listen and they were prepared to undermine and
diminish the Manly Ferry service with unsuitable, unsafe vessels,” said Mr Thatcher.
The experience on the campaign trail has strengthened Jasper’s resolve to continue pushing for progressive, left wing government.
“I’ve met some lifelong friends and had some amazing opportunities during four short weeks on this campaign, and I am tremendously happy with the result. This will not be the last you see of me, I’ll be back, but until then I’ll be working on the ferries and finishing my studies,” he said.
“I decided it was important to provide a working class perspective for voters in the Manly electorate and to provide an authoritative voice on the ferries campaign when voters came to decide who to support at the ballot box”
Top, left: New EBA voted up by Ferry workers at Sydney Trades Hall. Top, right: New River-class ferry, built in Indonesia, arrived with asbestos in the engine room. Above: Jasper Thatcher with Member for Coogee Marjorie O’Neill, Mich-Elle Myers and Deputy Sydney Branch Secretary, Paul Garrett.
Queensland Government invests in maritime jobs
The Palaszczuk Government has launched a $21 million grants program to stimulate investment in maritime businesses, skills and jobs.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey joined with MUA Queensland officials to make the announcement late last year, and explained that the grants will create more maritime jobs and improve the state’s coastal shipping industry and maritime skills base.
“The maritime sector is the unsung hero of Queensland’s economy, enabling us to earn valuable income from exports, and to import so many of the products that we depend on in our daily lives,” Minister Bailey said.
“As an island nation we are more reliant on shipping and the people it employs than most of us realise.
“What I want to see is more local workers and local crews doing the heavy lifting at Queensland ports, and a real a revitalisation of the Queensland coastal shipping industry.
“The pandemic has shown that our long-term success will depend on our ability to build local capacity in our state’s economy.
“The government’s ‘Backing Queensland Maritime Jobs’ grants program is about strengthening our local industry, through government, workers and industry working together to target new coastal shipping services, maritime employment and training opportunities.
“The $21 million of funding is designed to be a significant step to help industry create start-up projects, or build on existing businesses, to regenerate our maritime expertise.
“That is an economically and strategically important objective.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the efforts of Jason Miners from the Maritime Union of Australia in advocating for this, and providing ideas for solutions to improve the workforce on our waterways.”
The Queensland MUA’s Acting Branch Secretary, Jason Miners, said it was a big win for the future of Queensland’s maritime industry.
“This is fantastic news for the coastal shipping industry in Queensland and provides us with a great chance to strengthen our local workforce,” Mr Miners said.
“We’ve been working hard on behalf of our members to boost training and skills for our local workforce and deliver Australian crews for Queensland coastal shipping.
“This is something we’ve advocated strongly for, and I’d like to acknowledge the Palaszczuk Government for delivering this program.”
Mr Bailey said funding was offered in three streams, with businesses invited to apply for grants under a coastal shipping program, a maritime employment program and a maritime training program.
“Supporting maritime jobs to
strengthen our local supply chain capacity means Queensland is more resilient and less likely to be affected if international supply chains experience a major disruption, like we saw through the pandemic,” he said.
“The coastal shipping program provides one-off funding to establish or strengthen operations along the Queensland coast and deliver the government’s commitment to create viable and sustainable maritime jobs.
“The maritime employment program and maritime training grants are offered in multiple intakes over two years.
“They include port cadetships and are about providing both experienced and new mariners with jobs and training opportunities.
“I strongly encourage maritime businesses to get involved and apply for grants.”
Mr Bailey said he looked forward to getting a wide range of exciting applications.
“We’ve kept Queensland’s ports in public hands to grow domestic and international trade to support the state’s economy,” he said.
“Now we’re focusing on increasing domestic shipping along 7000kms of Queensland coastline to create new regional jobs that can support our economic recovery.
“Queenslanders has a proud and remarkable maritime history and we know we are at our strongest when we work together.” •
40 www.mua.org.au SEAFARING
Western Australia’s Shipping and Supply Chain Taskforce Update
Last year, in response to the significant disruption to the supply chain into WA, the State Government established a Taskforce to examine the Western Australia’s shipping industry and supply chains that link Western Australia with the east coast and international ports.
The Taskforce is Co-Chaired by Kyle McGinn, a Member of the WA Legislative Council and a former seafaring member of the MUA.
While the Taskforce was initially established as a result of the eastwest rail link being closed for 24 days due to unprecedented flooding, more recent disasters including bushfire and now flooding near the Kimberley in early 2023 have raised the stakes for the Taskforce and highlighted the need for durable and resilient supply chains.
The impacts of these disruptions, which was felt by every resident on WA supermarket shelves and especially in remote communities, raises questions about what else can be done to strengthen the State’s supply chain.
The main focus of the Shipping
and Supply Chain Taskforce has been to examine the state’s shipping industry and supply chains that link Western Australia with the east coast and international customers. The taskforce has been examining:
• The potential for domestic longdistance freight to be carried by coastal shipping between WA and eastern states;
• Co-operation in the development of a national strategic shipping fleet
• The development of local WA
training facilities and maritime career pathways;
• Opportunities to develop multimodal responsiveness to supply chain disruption, including freight on interstate routes and also to remote WA regions
• Opportunities to improve supply chain co-ordination and service quality at WA ports.
At the time of writing, the Taskforce was due to publish its final report in March 2023. The next edition of MWJ will examine the findings in detail. •
“Shipping hasn’t had this opportunity in over 30 years, where it’s needed to be a crucial part of the supply chain here in WA. Shipping is consistent. It doesn’t stop.”
Kyle McGinn MLC
caption caption caption
Wharfie cinema turns 70
Norma Disher, one of three trial blazers in the WWF film unit and mentor of MUA idol Port Botany wharfie Jamie McMechan, recalls the golden days on the waterfront
Centenarian, Norma Disher is sitting in her Glebe home in Sydney. She turned 100 last October. Surrounding her on her living room walls are painted landscapes and political posters by Wharfie Mural artists Clem Millward and Rod Shaw. A book case overflows with her film and music collections. Outside, by the front gate, a banner “Climate Action Now” greets guests and passers by.
Norma is the surviving member of the Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit she worked on with fellow film makers Keith Gow and Jock Levy in the fifties. This year marks 70 years since the Unit was established.
“I don’t want this to be about me,” she says. “I want the emphasis on all three of us. What we did as a group should be celebrated. It was a collaborative thing.”
Norma began her collaboration with Jock and Keith working at New Theatre in Sydney in 1949.
Down on the waterfront the Sydney Branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation was a thriving cultural centre. The branch hosted artists, actors, singers and musicians. It staged New Theatre plays and screened progressive films from around the world.
Many struggling artists found casual work on the waterfront. In turn many talented waterside workers joined the art and theatre groups. Work at New
Theatre was voluntary. Both Keith and Jock worked under the hook as casuals to pay the bills.
Jock was an actor and director at New Theatre. Keith also directed and had experience on the side lines of film making. He had worked on props and special effects for Kangaroo and Return to Paradise, where he had his photo taken on set in Samoa with Gary Cooper.
“Keith was absolutely enthusiastic about documentary film making,” Norma recalls.
Yet in many ways the union film unit came about by accident. Jock got the nod from Sydney Branch Secretary Tom Nelson to set up the Maritime Industries Theatre in the union hall. The aim was to get wharfies and families more involved in theatre. Their first play was a hard hitting, anti-war production, The Travellers Keith made a trailer.
“Tom was surprised to know there was somebody who could make a film,” says Norma.
He asked Jock and Keith straight away if they could make a documentary about the union’s pension campaign. That’s how the film unit got started.
An official document signed by Tom Nelson and Branch President Dutchy Young recognised the need to use “the most important medium of our time.”
“Commercial film at its worst reflects an appalling absence of
cultural background, of international understanding and a dangerous escapism from the social problems …” Tom and Dutchy later wrote.
“The key to the whole thing happening on the waterfront was really people like Tom Nelson,” says Norma. “He was aware the membership of the union included creative artists. Sonny Glenn, one of the artists working with Rod Shaw on the wharfies mural, was very much a person to let Tom know what was going on. Tom understood these people could help promote the politics of the union.”
During the making of The Hungry Miles, Norma volunteered working on custom, music and casting. But when the unit got a commission from the Building Workers Industrial Union, she left her job at the Trade Union Club to join the unit full time.
We film the facts
The WWF film unit was revolutionary – by wharfies, for wharfies, starring wharfies.
A book has been written about it (Fighting Films by Lisa Milner) and a documentary (Film Works by John Hughes)
The unit’s banner was “We Film the Facts”, yet much of the footage was re enactment.
“That’s not a contradiction,” says Norma. “We only recreated what was factual.”
Both Jock and Keith had no problem enlisting workmates to take part in their films.
It made sense to use actors, given everyone involved had a background in theatre. Also archival footage of the Depression and Bull System did not exist. No one wanted to record it at the time.
“That’s why we staged so much stuff,” says Norma.
Soviet film makers of the era, like Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin, were another influence, as Lisa Milner notes in her book. Keith attributed their work as first sparking his interest in film. Fast cutting, extreme camera angles, dynamic editing, the films also rejected any emphasis of the individual, over the collective. Workers took the lead role, not movie stars. The films were from a workers’ perspective.
“Keith and Jock just had to say they needed a dole queue scene or they needed the tickets thrown in the air, that we want so many wharfies at a certain spot on such and such a day and wharfies would all be there,” says Norma. “Because it wasn’t any old film unit it was their film unit. And the two blokes that were doing it were both wharfies. They were respected and trusted. In those shots in the ship’s hold in the Hungry Miles, Jock is working as a wharfie. Keith is filming.”
The Hungry Miles premiered in 1955 at the Leichhardt Stadium in Sydney to an audience of around 5,000 waterside workers. It was awarded a gold medal at the Warsaw Youth Festival in 1957 and later screened at the Sydney Film Festival as well as union halls and from the back of a
“Commercial film at its worst reflects an appalling absence of cultural background, of international understanding and a dangerous escapism from the social problems …”
TOM NELSON AND DUTCHY YOUNG
kombi. Clips are still used in television and film productions to this day.
Holding up iconic stills from the film, Norma remembers how each scene was shot.
The father in the Depression scene was a wharfie and keen photographer, George Williams.
“”I’ll be in it,” he said. “And I can play the mouth organ.’”
When the team said they wanted a child too, George brought his son along. The boy had shaved his head and wore a cap.
“We were standing outside this pub,” Norma says. “We had the cap on the floor and as we just finished shooting the film an old bloke stepped out of the pub and threw a coin into it. Everyone burst out laughing.”
In many ways wharfies acting in a film about themselves was closer to the truth. Many of these men had been through the brutal Bull System and the Depression. They were not really acting.
“We were working making films for the wharfies who came up every day to the canteen to eat their pie and peas,” says Norma. “All they had to do was run up the stairs to see what we were doing. They accepted me. Everyone knew I was a member of the unit. I was welcome.”
Wharfie’s wives worked in the canteen. Norma was one of the few working in a man’s world. “Everyone in the New Theatre always treated men and women as equals,” she says. “I was treated as an equal in the film unit too.”
Once a film was finished, Norma would organise the screening in the union hall and invite anyone who was interested in documentary film making along.
“I’d have a list and I’d get Ina (Heidtmann, branch office manager) to help me. I’d prepare the refreshments
and Tom’s weekly bulletin.”
She also helped with writing, scripting and editing.
“Jock and Keith were very creative people. Very intelligent,” she says. “They were stimulating fellows to be associated with. Their enthusiasm and dedication to their creativity was inspiring. I was extremely fortunate to work with them. Our friendships lasted a life time.”
Everything they did reflected union politics, Norma recalls.
Yet the film unit disbanded in 1958.
“After the unit was taken up by federal office we had hoped it would go national,” she says. “The builders, miners, teachers journalists were all interested and we were busting to make a film for the seafarers.”
Union finances became tight and WWF assistant national secretary Ted Roach after a few approaches to the ACTU soon gave up.
Lisa Milner, also factors in the move to permanent employment in her book. Many workers moved out to the suburbs and were no longer engaging with the union rooms activity or lunching in the canteen.
Keith got work in the government film unit and later the ACTU, making training films. Jock got acting and special effects credits in some feature films, Norma went back to the New Theatre and union work.
The film unit however inspired other unions and in 2006 the Maritime Union set up a film unit on National Secretary Paddy Crumlin wishes. Norma became a mentor for wharfie and aspiring film maker Jamie McMechan (see box)
Norma takes great pride that the WWFFU productions are still shown today. That the film has been chosen for the Reborn Cinema project that has seen the negatives remastered.
The Ritz Cinema in Randwick dedicated a night to showcase the films last year. The National Film and Sound Archives digitised the films in 2003 and published them as a DVD set with union funding.
Looking back over a century it is also the union leadership of the day that Norma holds dear.
“Those men were very special,” she says. “Matty Monroe, Iva Barrett, Stan Moran. They were workers yet they could make speeches without notes. They were orators. They had the language to inspire. They were courageous. I think their courage inspired them. They talked about the causes they believed in. Tom could be shy, Stan was mesmerising. No one else in the Domain had any audience when he spoke. I was very fortunate to know them all. It was a very rich time of my life.” •
“It wasn’t any old film unit, it was their film unit. And the two blokes that were doing it were both wharfies NORMA DISHER
Straitlink Seafarer tackles dinghy sailing comp after massive health scare
MUA seafarer and Straitlink Integrated Rating Dougal Watt has taken his passion for the sea and boating and turned it into a driving force for his recovery, after suffering a stroke at the young age of 32.
Originally a sailmaker, Dougal has been an active MUA member for the past 12 years while working as an Integrated Rating aboard Straitlink vessels operating out of the Port of Melbourne.
“During my recovery, it was suggested to me that I look at a career in seafaring as something to work towards, and I was lucky enough to gain a traineeship with Toll that then led to a permanent position,” Dougal said.
Throughout the process of recovery, Dougal has kept up his passion for competitive sailing,
winning the Impulse Nationals in 2009 and recently travelling to Thailand to compete in the 2023 International Laser Class Association 7 Masters World Championship, where he placed 7th in the single handed dinghy racing segment.
The Albert Park Yacht Club’s captain, Grame Cox, told the Maritime Workers Journal that the achievement is all the more remarkable due to the grim prognosis initially offered by doctors at the time of Dougal’s stroke.
“Dougal is a very good dinghy sailor, he has sailed racing dinghies all his life winning many events, but to be told in his mid-thirties said he could never sail solo again, Dougal had to re-learn how to read, write and even how to drive,” Mr Cox said.
“Despite this adversity, Dougal
started on the long hard road back to solo sailing and a return to high-level competition, and the club is incredibly proud of his achievements in racing but also in his career as a professional seafarer after the recovery,” Cox explained.
As well as his competitive spirit, Dougal also credits his colleagues in the maritime industry with fostering a love of lifelong learning and development.
“Nowadays it isn’t necessarily the thrill of winning but the self-improvement that comes from competition, and of course developing skills and meeting new people,” Dougal says. “That’s the same thing you get on the job too, I’m always learning new things and taking on board the skill and experience of colleagues who’ve been around a lot longer than me.”•
March 2023Norah Head
With scorching temperatures on the eastern seaboard in the middle of March finally bringing summer to a close, comrades from around the nation converged at Norah Head for the Newcastle Branch’s annual Working Waves surf competition on 17 March.
Held annually since 1995, Working Waves is a great day out in the sun for members and their families, welcoming surfers and spectators of all ages and abilities.
This year, the event was held in memory of Pete Meyer, who recently lost his battle with cancer. Pete was a huge supporter of the annual event, and would often dominate the Comrades Cup each year. The Union was honoured to host Pete’s family, including his wife Di and three children, who graciously awarded the 2023 Comrades Cup in his honour to winner Adam Paras.
The event was ably hosted by Ryan
Smith and MC’d by Sean Chaffer (whose skills as an MC are often drawn upon by the Union, including at last year’s 150th Gala Dinner with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese), and included competition in a variety of segments including Opens, Relays and Longboard events.
“It’s always a great event which draws in members throughout the industry and as it’s a family event, it’s an excellent social setting for everyone to unwind and enjoy time together in the sun,” said Newcastle Branch’s Secretary, Glen Williams.
“The event is only possible with the contribution of our rank and file members but also Cherie Simone from the branch office, who put in months of work to make Working Waves happen and for it to be such a success every year!” Mr Williams said. “It’s a grassroots event that represents the very best of who we are as the MUA.” •
Rockhead Relay winners
1st place: Peter Hayes
2nd place: Ryan Smith
3rd place: James Hozack
1st place: Mick Lown
2nd place: Mick Beaton
3rd place: Eben Kelk
1st place: Grant Innes
2nd place: Michael Mendoza
3rd place: Joel O’Brien
Strength in Unity - MUA and Unity Bank
When it comes to supporting workers over the years, as we know talk can be cheap. But not always.
Did you know… that we have our own workers bank created by Maritime workers back in 1970 and owned by its members? The Waterside Workers’ of Australia Credit Union, now called Unity Bank is still the workers’ bank, and offers our members unique and valuable support.
So, what’s different?
Unity Bank have proudly marched with us on the front line to support our cause and been there to man the barbecue as well. That’s real support, and we have never seen that from another bank.
Unity Bank backs us in a number of ways. As a Union we are supported through an Alliance Agreement, which guarantees us backing for the various functions and events we run throughout the year.
For MUA members, the benefits of membership with the Bank are compelling. Danny Pavisic, Unity bank’s CEO explains…
Benefits of Membership Protected Action Clause
For starters, Unity Bank loan contracts have a special clause supporting borrowers in the event of a Protected Industrial Action. (Protected Action Clause – see the notice next to this article.)
It offers built in protection allowing your loan repayments to be deferred for a period of time while you are involved in a Protected Action dispute. We added this to our loan contracts to provide real support for when you need it most.
Community Support Loan
We have also introduced a support loan for workers of up to $10,000 which includes a deferred repayment option of up to 3 months to relieve financial hardship during protected industrial action. (See notice next to this article for details).
Finally, you will see our motto is “Strength in Unity”. We are very proud of our roots in the Maritime industry back in 1970, and to have stood beside and supported MUA members in a very real sense ever since. •
Danny Pavisic CEO, Unity Bank
WORKER SUPPORT Benefits of Unity Bank membership * Credit eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply. 1. Protected Action Clause available for all Unity Bank members while involved in “protected industrial action” under the Fair Work Act, 2009 (Cth). Members with loans contracted before 13/9/21, must first apply to Unity Bank to vary their loan contract to include the Protected Action Clause. Prior to becoming involved in a protected industrial action Member must not be in default under their loan contract. Member must request Unity Bank to postpone repayments in part or in full. 2. Loan repayment deferral subject to approval. Interest accrues and is capitalised to the loan throughout the approved loan repayment deferral period. 3. Challenge applies to variable rate home loans held with another lender. Unity Bank will endeavor to beat your existing variable rate but cannot guarantee in every case. 4. Only available for eligible First Home Buyers. Minimum home loan balance $150,000. Not available for top ups or internal product switches. Loan to Value Ratio(LVR), is the ratio of money you borrow compared to the value of the property used as security, as determined by the Bank. 5. First Home Guarantee and Family Home Guarantee are in the Australian Government’s Home Guarantee Scheme, and are not a cash payment or a deposit for your home loan. Loan deferment option, cash support and refinance offers available at the discretion of the Bank and subject to approval. 6. Services provided to Unity Bank by National Car Search Australia Pty Limited ABN 51 090 920 059 for general information only. You should verify the accuracy and completeness of the information yourself. National Car Search Australia is not available in Western Australia, Tasmania or The Northern Territory. The offer can be withdrawn at any time without notice. Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited trading as CGU Insurance ABN 11 000 016 722, AFSL 227681. Unity Bank Limited. | ABN 11 087 650 315 | AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240399. ➊ Protected Action clause in your loan contract 1 Your loan repayments deferred during protected industrial action.2 ➋ Home Loan refinance offer Challenge us to save you money with a lower interest rate.3 ➌ First Home Guarantee4 Buy with a deposit from just 5% and no LMI.5 ➍ Single Parents with at least one dependent Buy with a deposit from just 2% and no LMI.5 ➎ Community Support Loan Relieve financial hardship during industrial action.1 ➏ Fleet discount on your new car Get your car, your loan and your car insurance all through Unity Bank.6 strength in unity Contact Ian Birch, Relationship Manager on 0407 256 529, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to unitybank.com.au