I T ’ S O F F I C I A L ! A U S T R A L I A’ S N E W S U P E R U N I O N I S H E R E T O S TAY
THE MARITIME WORKERS’ JOURNAL SPRING 2018
SUPER UNION: Unions defy big business and government to join forces and change the rules
KILLER COMPANY: One near death incident on the Port Botany wharves, four killed on the job in Jakarta. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) calls global giant Hutchison Ports to task as maritime workers demand the right to strike over unsafe workplaces
FUEL INSECURITY: Report lifts the lid on the dire outcome of Government’s shipping policy
AUTOGATE Union uncovers Australian container terminal being operated from the Philippines - a threat to jobs and security
COVER STORY: 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1998 LOCKOUT Twenty years on we pay tribute to the working class heroes, the leaders, the battles, the union winning strategy, the victory, international solidarity and what became the world’s biggest picket line
Cover montage: 1998 MUA Lockout Victory by Will Mottram
EDITOR IN CHIEF Paddy Crumlin COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR Darrin Barnett EDITORIAL TEAM Mich-Elle Myers DESIGN LX9 Design for Magnesium Media PRINTER Spotpress
Maritime Workers’ Journal 365-375 Sussex Street Sydney NSW 2000 Contact: 9267 - 9134 Fax: 9261 - 3481 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.mua.org.au MWJ reserves the right at all times to edit and/or reduce any articles or letters to be published. Publication No: 1235 For all story ideas, letters, obituaries please email firstname.lastname@example.org
LOGGING ON PADDY CRUMLIN
PATRICK DISPUTE 20 YEARS ON - WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND No one recognises, or has been a greater victim of the paucity of leadership, the reliance on prejudice and elitism and the brutal and uncompromising delivery of the political agenda of the conservatives of LNP governments than maritime workers. To be fair, they have been just as focused and unrelenting in their campaign against construction and mining workers as well and pretty much anyone else that gets in their way. However, 20 years on from the exclamation mark of this type of political bullying and harassment and the bludgeoning effect of this constant belligerence against the rights and aspirations of organised labour, it has been a strong inducement to those workers and their unions coming together into a structured and effective defence of those rights. The Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union. Bit of a mouthful, but we’ll sort that one out in the fullness of time. More importantly, it’s a collective of
working women’s and men’s rights to have some ownership and dignity on the job - in a way that translates into material support at home for our families. No-one knows better than us the facts of working rights under this government: • Unfair dismissal equals family breakdown • C ontracting out equals loss of employment • P oor HR and corporate-oriented OH&S equals serious injury and sometimes death Unregulated automation independent of fair, transparent and agreed transition equals bullying, union-busting and discrimination against a longstanding, legally legitimate and professional workforce We need to stick together to avoid this type of abhorrent, morally bankrupt and entirely opportunistic and cynical political and industrial leadership.
It is now 20 years since a clandestine alternate workforce was created by an earlier version of the current Federal Government. A secret army of professional thugs, arrogant to the point of extreme emotional and at times physical violence
and fuelled by a corporate and political marriage of convenience to destroy the lives of employees, set upon a mission to promote their prejudice and obsession with their own power and elitism. There was no other motivation except greed and political power. The Patrick dispute was the gold standard when it comes to a pact between the government of the day and big business to undermine an entire workforce and re-shape industrial relations in this country. Even though we won the battle, the war rages on with Australian workplaces today under the pervasive influence of out-of-control ideologues in cahoots with the same types of employers. For example, the Australian Mines and Metals Association continues to lead the way on employer militancy, building Industry employers plumb new depths of vilifying the workers they employ and their industry absolutely relies on, the royal commission into the banks has time and again shown up a culture that beggars belief and big oil and gas multinationals continue to spend their way into government and out of trouble. 20 years of abuse. 20 years of hard and honest work by
The bell is ringing for those multinationals and employers that were seduced to this terrible and brutal period of greed, elitism and unambiguous commitment to those political values for no other reason than short term gain at any price. the workforces they have targeted. 20 years of fighting back against the lies, vilification, dissembling, legal and legislative abuses all formulated against the interests of workers. Well, the bell is ringing on this Government and the corrupted values it stands upon. The bell is ringing for those multinationals and employers that were seduced to this terrible and brutal period of greed, elitism and unambiguous commitment to those political values for no other reason than short term gain at any price. Seriously, we are changing the rules. Seriously, we will put into Canberra an effective and accountable Government that supports working men and women and our families and communities. Seriously, we have grown stronger and more determined under this concerted and antagonistic attack. The difference with our leadership and theirs is we are driven by the rights and needs of the many and not the lucky and opportunistic few. We are about creating wealth and growing opportunity for the majority in our Australian working communities. Its not about Liberal or Labor. It’s about working Australians and our capacity to fight for our rights, while still building workplaces, communities and a country that is fair, free of prejudice and providing opportunity for all.
JUSTICE TONY NORTH RETIRES
Justice Tony North has been farewelled after a remarkable 23-year stint on the Federal Court bench, which included hearing the 1998 waterfront case. Justice North heard the union’s application against Patrick in April 1998 and produced a judgment on complex factual and legal matters just four days after the hearing. His judgment was upheld by six of the seven High Court justices and endorsed by nine of the 10 appellate judges who had to consider it. Justice North exemplified the true essence of justice on many occasions. www.mua.org.au
Objectivity, intellectual inquisitiveness, fair hearing and community and social expectation and values in the application of the law. His leadership and application of these principles during the legal applications by our union and members during the Patrick dispute was as courageous as it was consistent under tremendously vociferous and savage political pressure from the Howard Government, the company and many media organisations.
It’s great to see Abbott, Abetz, Dutton, Morrison, Cash and co give themselves up by exposing that their values are driven by anger, revenge, falsification of the facts and an absolute sense of entitlement. We know it and Australia is increasingly seeing it, much of it driven by pure individual opportunism and selfishness. With faux statesmen-like commentary shoring their arguments up, no one is fooled and living with their vision for Australia is akin to like dining with a funnel web. Take a look at our Patrick’s online documentary. Reith and Howard were liars all along, Abbott, Dutton, Cash, Abetz and co have been mentored accordingly. Thanks to our remarkable, hardworking and truly creative and professional media and film unit for pulling the 20 years film together. An important and enormously relevant testament of that time, that continues to be relevant today. All the elements of our movement are clearly captured. Humble, selfeffacing, intelligent and principled leadership; courageous, determined and heartbreaking sacrifice by our members; pervasive, unsolicited and complete support by our supporters and international workers that understood what was happening and built that knowledge around action and unselfish support. The MUA has proven we’re here to stay with our legion of supporters, many still labouring under their own industrial and political attacks and abuses. We belong and are part of a newer,
larger and better resourced union, and that union as identified in our recent inaugural conference is as much about our proud history, political perspective and industrial strength as any other influence.
PROUD TO BE UNION
There’s plenty of reading in this MWJ. It reflects a union leadership absolutely committed to our membership and working class rights more broadly. From the corruption of industrial values and devaluation of nearly 160 years of securing decent working conditions at VICT in Melbourne, to the constant campaigning for stevedoring safety, coastal shipping and an offshore industry reserved for Australian workers. These are campaigns and actions that formed our union and will continue to underline the importance of it in the timeless struggle to protect our industrial rights and standards. Internationalism is critical to our success in these campaigns and actions against the size and influence of multinational stevedoring, shipping and supply chain corporations. They have in many instances targeted our industries as a fertile ground of deregulation, outsourcing, automation and cost-cutting. If we are to stand tall and campaign effectively, we need to do it here in our new union with those that are with us both domestically and internationally. To that effect, with the support of our National Council and membership, I intend standing for another term as President of the ITF and Chair of the Dockers’ Section of that organisation at the upcoming ITF Congress this year. It doesn’t impede the policies and objectives of our union and the role of MUA National Secretary, which I now move into the 19th year of. In fact, it’s just the opposite - with your support and the support of all my comrades, it can only strengthen our hand at both a domestic and international level in the great struggles and opportunities that lay before us. n
GETS THE GO AHEAD
‘You voted on it and it happened. We’re in a union that can fight back and we’re going to fight back’
MUA Ausport Marine crew among the 87% strong ‘yes’ vote for amalgamation
t is official. On 6 March the Fair Work Commission said yes leaving an appeal to the High Court as the most likely option for to the amalgamation of the Maritime Union, Construction, the serial whingers AMMA and MBA. Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Textile, AMMA and the MBA opposed the merger on the grounds that Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA). two of the unions involved were currently subject to civil penalty The decision, hotly contested by the Turnbull proceedings and a contempt proceeding pending in the Supreme Government and business groups, sees the creation of one of Court of Victoria. the biggest and most militant unions boasting a membership The move was widely seen as an attempt to buy time for of more than160,000 members. the Turnbull Government to try to pass through Parliament i It made headlines: ts so-called ‘Ensuring Integrity Bill’ that would insert a “CFMEU-MUA merger puts bosses on edge,” said The Australian. “public interest test”. “CFMEU-MUA merger to create $150m super union ‘too big’ for However, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission the courts”, The Australian Financial Review reported. determined that an earlier finding by deputy president, Val The amalgamation came in the lead up to the union’s Gostencnik was correct in saying the merger could not be celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the MUA’s historical blocked for failing to meet the requirements of the Registered 1998 victory over Patrick Stevedores and the Howard/Reith Organisations Act. Government conspiracy to sack its entire workforce and dePaddy Crumlin said it should be up to union members, and not unionise the waterfront. The unions commemorated both employer groups or the Turnbull Government on their ideological victories at a dinner in Melbourne in April. crusade against unions, to decide whether unions should merge. The MUA will remain a separate division within the Construction “The MUA vigorously opposed the appeal by AMMA and Forestry Maritime and Mining Union, the MBA and sought to defend with MUA officials keeping their the rights of workers seeking to titles as part of the MUA division. engage in freedom of association,” MUA national secretary Crumlin said. Paddy Crumlin will also take the “Our members have role of international president for overwhelmingly supported this the new union. amalgamation and it should be In a message to members via up to them to decide whether YouTube Crumlin described the they merge – not rogue employer decision as historic. groups.” “Comrades, it’s an historic day. “This merger means that We went out there two years ago maritime, construction, forestry, and determined to form a new mining and manufacturing union; a union that wouldn’t workers will have an industry PADDY CRUMLIN lose our important MUA identity union that is able to represent - the long historical identity of them more effectively.” struggle fighting back that saw Crumlin said bigger can be us build decent conditions of employment at sea and on the better as long as members are supporting it. docks and in the tugs and in the ports, a union that could fight “Do you think the shipping companies aren’t merging back against people like Liberal Senator, Michaela Cash who together with the mining companies who are merging together was taking our right to work away in the offshore, Malcolm with the transport companies that are merging together with Turnbull, Howard and Abbott,” he said. the rail companies, that are merging together with retailers?” “So we made a determination to fight and we realised it. You Crumlin said. voted on it. It’s happened. It’s happened with the opposition of “So big business and multinational capital can avoid tax the Turnbull Government, it happened with the opposition of and responsibility by vertically and horizontally integrating mines and metals, and the builders and all the big end of town themselves through the supply chain from mining to looking after their self-interest and to preserve their elitism manufacturing to retail and workers can’t do the same thing? while taking away your right to strike, taking away your dignity “This is just the start of it, there are going to be bigger and in the workplace. We’re in a union that can fight back and we’re better and stronger unions in this country that will change the going to fight back.” rules – rules made by governments to eliminate working rights National secretary Michael O’Connor said the union would hit not to promote them. the ground running. “That’s what the Turnbull Government and employer groups ”Big business has too much power, we have record levels of are objecting to - a strong union, a real union and a union that inequality in our community, and working families are finding it has total support of workers in that industry.” hard to make ends meet,” he said. “We will be fighting every day MUA deputy national secretary, Will Tracey said the MUA had to restore the fair go.” beaten legal action designed by anti-union forces against the The textile union’s national secretary, Michele O’Neil said it interests of working people. had a proud history fighting for some of Australia’s lowest paid “The MUA’s legal win against renowned anti-union groups and most exploited workers. AMMA and the MBA is good news for members and shows the “This is the day that we will begin to win Australian benefit of standing up and fighting back against those who workplaces back for Australian workers,” she said. didn’t want the amalgamated union to proceed,” Tracey said. However, the success was short-lived with the Australian “Well we’ve got bad news for our opponents - as anyone Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) lodging an urgent appeal who was at the recent inaugural conference will tell you, to a full bench of the Fair Work Commission in an attempt to no-one from any of the three amalgamated unions is going to stop the merger going ahead. take a backwards step when it comes to representing the best interests of our members.” n On 22 June the Fair Work Commission knocked back the appeal,
“Our members have overwhelmingly supported this amalgamation and it should be up to them to decide whether they merge – not rogue employer groups.”
STAND UP, FIGHT BACK The Maritime Union celebrated a new era as part of a new union at the inaugural conference of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union on the Gold Coast in June.
t’s all in black and white. The conference papers for the inaugural conference spell out the new super union agenda for the years to come: The union has been born into a time of crisis. For over 50 years the labour movement has been under sustained attack. Neoliberalism has run its course and it is the job of the labour movement to bury it. Workers’ rights are at an all time low; inequality is at an all time high. The big end of town is made up of wage thieves, tax dodgers and criminal bankers. Everyday working people have had enough. It’s time to fight back. We have to change the government, change the rules and grow the movement. It is not a slogan, but a call to arms. “It’s a ferocious challenge and ferocious attack,” International President Paddy Crumlin told the more than 120 delegates, observers and international guests at the Star conference centre in Broadbeach, Queensland. “They are taking away our democratic institutions. They want to take the bread out of your mouth to build their wealth and power. Are we going to rebuild the union movement? Yes. We can fight back – we have a history of fighting and winning. The
MUA delegates to the inaugural national conference www.mua.org.au
rest of the world is looking to us to lead from the front and follow us and walk with us.” The agenda for the new union is to develop new strategies and new tactics to re-invent itself. It is not to leave behind who we are, but to find new ways of organising workers and communities, new ways of campaigning, new ways to tackle the big campaign driver – jobs and inequality. Conference sought to develop a new union identity – “Who we are and what we believe in” – militancy, solidarity, the pursuit of justice, equity, human rights, the promotion of workers and trade union rights campaigning at the workplace, community national and international levels. “We have to decide if the future will shape us or if we will shape the future,” conference declared. “Solidarity action of workers on workers should be celebrated,” said Michael O’Connor, National Secretary. “To build the future you have to have pride in the past,” said Tony Maher, National President. Dave Noonan, National Assistant Secretary paid tribute to Ark Tribe, the South Australian construction worker and unionist who was prosecuted for refusing to attend a meeting with investigators from the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in 2008. He was acquitted in 2010 but sadly passed away in May this year. “Ark Tribe is one of our great union heroes,” Noonan said. Michele O’Neil, National Vice-President spoke of the extraordinary honour to have the support of the for her position as President-elect of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. “The TCFUA is 148 years old,” she said. “It is a story of struggles, campaigns and mergers. When I was young I worked as an organiser on a site with 40 languages. My union proudly tells the stories of refugees and asylum seekers. It is a unique story of a union that is predominantly blue collar women workers,” Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary called on delegates to help build the foundations to keep the labour movement growing: “They’re going to continue to throw everything at us,” she said. “We need to stay united – we need to win.” International guests Joe Fleetwood General Secretary Maritime Union, New Zealand, Jenny Holdcroft, Assistant General Secretary, Industrial Global Union, Ben Davis, Director, United Steelworkers, Pennsylvania, USA, Apolinar (Dong) Tolentino, President Building and Wood Workers’ International addressed conference on the global struggle. The Women in our Union, Indigenous Australians, Youth, The Patrick’s Dispute, Our Future, Workers’ Capital and the union’s role in the Australian Labor Party were on the agenda of the four day conference. Maritime Union members Terry O’Shane and Thomas Mayer gave an overview of the struggle of Aboriginal Australians and the need for unions to get behind the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Conference concluded with the endorsement of 38 resolutions, including key maritime union concerns of cabotage, the right to strike and the right of representation in the workplace (see 60.) n
COMRADES The marriage of the CFMEU and the MUA follows a long engagement. And it was on the Fremantle picket during the 1998 nationwide lockout – in the trenches – that the some of the strongest bonds were formed.
etired CFMEU national president (construction) Joe McDonald, (construction), jokes that Paddy Crumlin was ‘just a surfy from the east coast when he came west to head the picket in 1998. Crumlin had in fact been long under the tutelage of his dad, master mariner Joe Crumlin, seafarers’ veteran leader Pat Geraghty and other union stalwarts who pulled him off the beach back in the seventies and got him started as a ship’s delegate. By 1988 Crumlin was a full time official. Still McDonald and the CFMEU comrades could lay claim to helping transform him from a middleweight to a heavyweight in union circles. “Leaders were born out of the dispute,” said McDonald. “Patrick gave us Paddy Crumlin and Christy Cain. Paddy was always going to be leader. I will take all the
credit I can get, but he was always going to be leader.” Christy Cain and Joe McDonald had been mates for a long time. “They thought the West would fall. Now you could say it’s the most powerful and progressive branch in the union,” said McDonald. The comradeship on the Fremantle picket climaxed on the night of the Tom Edmund stand, so called in honour of a wharfie clubbed to death on the Fremantle wharves in 1919. (That was Joe’s idea). On that night the state conservative government called in riot police to break the picket. Things got ugly. The CFMEU were there. “All the unions played a role,” said McDonald. “Whenever we were needed, jobs just kept shutting down – as they did in every other state.”
In Melbourne a dawn police raid to break the picket on April 18 failed when John Setka (now Victoria branch secretary) and John Cummins (Victorian branch president now deceased) called on thousands of construction workers all over the city to down tools and defend the picket. “We were all there on the picket line that night,” said Setka. “We had a whole heap of people assembled there. John was on the roof of a police van with a loud hailer. It was our command post. “It was the very early hours of morning and we could hear the rotor blades of the helicopters overhead. The police were all cocky. They were all lined up liked storm troopers and were going to give it to us. We made some phone calls.”
“Whenever we were needed, jobs just kept shutting down – as they did in every other state.” - JOE McDONALD
Joe McDonald, John Setka (far left). The CFMEU flag flies in solidarity over the Fremantle picket (left), a floating picket during the 1995 Weipa dispute.
The CFMEU pulled workers off the AAMI Park footie stadium under construction as they turned up for work. Others just downed tools and joined in along the way as they marched on the docks. “Next thing it was like the movies when the cavalry arrives,” Setka recalls. “It was one of those rare, amazing moments in the dispute that pepped everyone up. If those construction workers had not marched down the police would have broken the picket. Our shop stewards still talk about it today.” Melbourne teachers Lesley Clarke and Bronwyn Jones were at the front line at East Swanson Dock: “Mounted police, riot gear, dogs, a black bus full of plain clothes coppers, all of them with capsicum spray. The spotlight turned to strobe pulsating over the crowd. We link arms, bunch up, clasp our fingers in a monkey group. Protect our thumbs from pressure holds which could break them…” Patrick apprentice tradie Mychelle Emmett says she still gets goosebumps thinking about it: “We could hear the horses’ hooves as the mounted police were coming down Fitzroy Road. We’d been there all night and the sun was coming up. We were all prepared for the worst. Then we heard the beat of construction workers’ boots.” James McNamara Patrick delegate recalls: the CFMEU began marching workers off every building site in the city from 6.00 am. Melbourne Patrick wharfie John Paterson could hear them over the drone of the helicopters overhead chanting “MUA Here to Stay”. In Sydney Mick Doleman, assistant national secretary charged with Port Botany, recalls men in balaclavas and truck drivers making a heavy attempt to break the blockade. “Everyone on the community picket at the time was exhausted,” he said. “To our surprise we saw a large gathering of people www.mua.org.au
at the end of the road. There was a sense of alarm. “As the men got closer and unfolded their banners we realised the approaching mob was our mates in the CFMEU. Many of us had tears in our eyes. It was a great day.” “They were the first union at the Port Botany picket, and the last to leave. They only packed up when our members went back to work,” said (1998 branch secretary) Robert Coombs. Solidarity was not only a one way street. In 1995 in the mining town of Weipa, 75 workers took a stand against mining giant CRA - the company behind the Bougainville civil war. CRA was attempting to crush the union. Miners set up floating pickets of aluminium dinghies to block massive bulk ore carriers loading bauxite exports. MUA members voted to shut down every port in Australia. More than 100 ships were affected. Some 25,000 miners nationwide walked off the job and the Australian Council of Trade Unions announced it would extend the campaign to other industries. The Prime Minister and the Industrial Relations Commission intervened. CRA buckled under pressure. The miners won. Out of the 1995 Weipa dispute and the 1998 Lockout came the M&M Mining and Maritime Solidarity declaration. The first international conference was held in Newcastle in 2002. The second M&M was
Paddy Crumlin and Michael O’Connor at the 20th Anniversary of the Patrick Dispute dinner in April (below) MUA stand in solidarity with Gordonstone miners, 1999 (bottom left)
hosted by the ILWU in Los Angeles. The third was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary commemorations of the 1998 lockout in Sydney with 350 national and international guests. In 1999 the MUA stood by miners on the Gladstone picket line in Central Queensland and in Emerald, then the longest black coal dispute in Australian history, then at the Mount Thorley and Hunter Valley disputes. In more recent solidarity actions, the MUA has backed the CFMEU miners during the Port Kembla Coal Terminal lockout, and the three year-long Glencore Oaky North mine lock out. In return CFMEU members joined protests, pickets and blockades over companies dumping Australian crew from the Alexander Spirit, the CSL Melbourne, the MV Portland and others. This year they joined pickets at Webb Dock and Qube, Melbourne. MUA solidarity action has not been confined to the mines. In 2009 the union backed its amalgamation partner, the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia. Unions were tipped off that Bond’s factory gear was being shipped out and work moved offshore. Transport unions in Melbourne led by the MUA refused to move the machinery from any Pacific Brands factory. Media dubbed it the Chesty Bonds Blockade. n
Workmates help their mate pull through after near death shuttle collision due to unsafe work conditions at Hutchison’s Port Botany
aterside worker Kim Grunsell, 55, was hurled more than nine metres from her shuttle onto the concrete below after a collision with another shuttle at Hutchison, Port Botany on 19 April. It was touch and go whether she would pull through. “I was there when it happened,” said workmate and best mate Jodie Dale. “I heard the call and got down from my crane. I was on the ground with Kim.” Jodie, an ex-police officer, has seen a lot of serious injuries. “But it’s a hell of a lot different when it’s your mate,” she said. “Kim was conscious for a bit. She said ‘Don’t leave me’.” Jodie didn’t leave Kim. She stayed the night at the hospital in the Intensive Care Unit and tracked down Kim’s mum Beth. “I didn’t come home for a couple of days. My husband took holiday leave so he could look after our two little kids,” she said. Sometimes there were as many as 20 of her mates by Kim’s bedside each day until nurses reminded them it was intensive care. Kim was on life support in an induced coma for a month before regaining consciousness. “Kim had catastrophic injuries,” said Paul Keating, deputy branch secretary Sydney. “She was on the operating table for 17 hours undergoing brain surgery. That first week we had no news but no news was good news. It meant she was still alive.”
The collision was no accident, it was a disaster waiting to happen. The day after the near fatality, Hutchison Ports bosses tried to force workers straight back working in unsafe conditions. Management refused to let union officials on site, forcing them to address workers through a barbed wire fence.
The smashed shuttle carrier, in which Kim was almost killed, was left standing in full-view in the middle of the yard, despite repeated requests to shift it. Traumatised workers said they would not operate the shuttles until health and safety concerns were addressed. This was their right under both Work Health and Safety legislation and the enterprise agreement. But management accused the workers of ‘unlawful’ industrial action. “Worse, Hutchison was attempting to force workers, using intimidation and legal threats, to resume unsafe traffic operations, even though nothing has changed since the incident that left one member in hospital fighting for her life,” safety officer Matt Goodwin said. “Fellow workers at Port Botany, also traumatised and in fear for their lives, refused to undertake vehicle operations in the terminal until immediate safety issues were addressed,” he said. “The terminal was grounded for 13 days. Vessels were diverted to the Patrick terminal as investigations got under way. It was not until SafeWork NSW issued improvement notices warning of serious risks to the workforce that talks began. The Fair Work Commission issued contradictory interim orders. Workers were to operate shuttles as directed but at the same time the Commission acknowledged workers’ rights to stop work if there was a risk. On 29 May MUA Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer led a march of several hundred workers through the Sydney CBD
from the Town Hall to the Fair Work Commission demanding the right to strike. The Port Botany wharves were closed for the morning. “Industrial laws are stacked against workers and union in favour of corporations and bosses,” the leaflet calling for the rally announced. “Unions that exercise their right to strike face massive fines and law suits.” The near fatality at Port Botany is the latest case in a pattern of serious health and safety incidents in Hutchison terminals. In the past 18 months in the Asia-Pacific region alone, four workers were killed at Hutchison’s JICT Terminal in Jakarta. The Indonesian union was among the first to send solidarity messages to Kim and her workmates. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) launched a campaign to improve Hutchison’s global health and safety operations.
In London an ITF executive meeting passed an urgent resolution: “Hutchison Ports [must] correct its safety record and mitigate any further risk to its workforce and ensure involvement of union representatives,” the resolution said. ITF President and CFMMEU International President, Paddy Crumlin spoke on behalf of the international trade union community: “We extend our thoughts to our member and her family. We say to them, and workers in Hutchison terminals globally, this only strengthens our resolve to make sure that every dock worker comes home safely to his or her family.” ITF Australia called on affiliates to write to local management demanding Hutchison meet with President Crumlin. Writing to ITF dockworkers, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Safety Officer, Matt Goodwin said the collision between the two shuttles exposed serious safety problems at the Hutchison terminal including: • a lack of traffic management, exceptionally narrow lane (spacing just 6.05m for a shuttle carrier which is 5.1m wide), lack of separation between heavy vehicles and suspended loads, and poorly managed vehicle flows which put workers at serious risk of death or injury • inadequate training and instruction, and • engineering flaws in shuttle carriers which leave workers at risk of ejection in the event of a collision. The terminal was subject to three Improvement Notices (legal orders) from WorkSafe, the NSW safety regulator. “By refusing to do unsafe work for over two weeks, we forced Hutchison Ports Australia to accept significant improvements to training, traffic management and engineering faults,” said branch secretary, Paul McAleer. “There is a long way to go and enforcing these victories on the job will be an ongoing battle. But workers at Hutchison have proved that fighting back works.” www.mua.org.au
“I was on the ground with Kim. She was conscious for a bit. She said ‘Don’t leave me’.” - Jodie Dale, wharfie, Hutchison’s Port Botany Kim too is fighting back. She was transferred to rehabilitation in Ryde in June and will soon be going home. “Kim is tough,” said Paul Keating. “She’s a fighter. It’s been miraculous. Now all she wants is to come home. But she’s got a massive mountain ahead of her.” “Ten weeks ago we feared she would not make it,” National Divisional Womens Representative, Mich-Elle Myers posted on Facebook. “Today she is talking (a lot) and laughing and giving the doctors a hard time and demanding
to be released. “Tough as nails, this wonderful human being spent an hour counselling me with some great advice,” Mich-Elle said. “NO - meant try harder “STOP - meant take a breath and then give it all you’ve got. n
Special thanks to OH&S job delegate Hutchison’s Port Botany, Ben Krieger workmates Hannah Matthewson and all others who helped with the campaign to make the job safe and help Kim pull through.
MUA CAMPAIGN TO SECURE AUSTRALIA’S FUEL SUPPLIES
ith the third anniversary of the axing of the Alexandra Spirit crew approaching in July the MUA is ramping up our fuel security campaign. The National Energy Security Assessment recently announced by the Government confirms what the MUA has been saying for years. Declining domestic production, diminishing refining capacity and concerns over potential flashpoints in the Middle East and South China Sea all put Australia at risk. The Turnbull government is sitting on its hands over fuel security with our nation having been non-compliant with the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel stockholding obligation since March 2012. MUA assistant national secretary, Ian Bray said that while the government is running the line that the last National Energy Security Assessment was in 2011, the truth is several inquiries and reports have touched on the important issue of fuel security. “The Senate has held inquiries into both fuel security and flag-of-convenience shipping, while the Energy White Paper and Defence White Paper also investigated our increasing reliance on foreign fuel,” Bray said. “Unlike the Abbott/Turnbull government, the MUA has continually led the debate on fuel security in recent years but this has fallen on deaf ears with the number of Australian-crewed tankers now down to zero. “There are now no Australian-crewed
tankers supplying fuel to our nation, down from 12 in 2000. At the same time, the number of refineries has halved to four. This means we now import more than 90 per cent of our fuel and that number is rising.” Engineers Australia told the Senate fuel security inquiry in 2015 that Australia’s total stockholding of oil and liquid fuel comprised two weeks of supply at sea, five to 12 days’ supply at refineries, 10 days of refined stock at terminals and three days at service stations. The NRMA’s figures indicated that Australia only retained enough fuel in stockholdings to continue delivery of chilled and frozen goods for seven days, dry goods for nine days, hospital pharmacy supplies for three days, retail pharmacy for seven days, and petrol stations for three days. “All of these doomsday scenarios have been heard before yet the Government expects us to believe the trigger for an emergency has only just occurred – they are playing us for mugs,” Bray said.
“Australians would expect their government to have a better plan and this would involve more refining here and Australian-crewed ships to carry it around the coast. “This isn’t only a matter of fuel security but also national security. Unlike Australian seafarers, foreign crews have no background checks yet they are carrying petroleum products, ammonium nitrate and LNG around the Australian coast.” With the nation facing heightened concerns over fuel security, the MUA has reminded the Australian community that the cost of hiring Aussie seafarers to move fuel around our coast averages out to less than one cent per litre at the bowser. “It is also true that unlike the United States, in a time of national emergency, the Australian Government has no means to use an act of parliament to second ships to a merchant navy. There is also the added problem that there are very few Australianflagged and crewed ships.” n
A T ’S A IIT’S T!! AC T FFAC
ecently the ABC/RMIT Fact Check Unit investigated fuel security, specifically checking ‘Does Australia have three weeks of petrol in reserve?’ Their verdict: Checks Out ✔ The Department of the Environment and Energy released statistics showing the end-of-month stocks of fuel products in Australia. That publication gave 21 days of petrol stocks, 16 days of diesel and 19 days of aviation fuel.
AUSTRALIA’S SOURCES OF FUEL
Production, imports and exports of fuel and oil and are separated into two main categories: unprocessed crude oil, and refined petroleum products. Crude oil is the unprocessed liquid oil extracted from underground, while
petroleum products are the finished, ready-for-use fuels that are the result of crude oil being refined. An August 2017 report from the Department of the Environment and Energy shows that while Australia produces its own crude oil, around 75 per cent of local production is exported and refined overseas. The report noted most of Australia’s oil production occurred off the northwest coast - closer to Asian refineries than Australian refineries on the east coast. “In addition, domestically produced grades of crude oil are generally not as well suited for use by local refineries as those sourced from other countries,” the report said. As such, Australian fuel consumption is heavily reliant on imports, with 75 per cent of crude oil and 55 per cent of refined petroleum sourced overseas, according to the department. The department’s monthly production statistics show that much of these imports come via the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2016-17, South Korea supplied 27 per cent of Australia’s refined product imports by volume, closely followed by Singapore with 26 per cent. Japan supplied 14 per cent, Malaysia 10 per cent and China 8 per cent. Crude oil is sourced from a more diverse range of countries with Malaysia the largest supplier at 33 per cent of imports followed by the United Arab Emirates at 16 per cent. Indonesia, Gabon and New Zealand were the next three biggest sources, each supplying less than 10 per cent of Australia’s crude oil imports in 2016-17. While the exact origin of the crude oil arriving in Australia as refined products is difficult to determine, almost a third of global crude oil production in 2017 was in Persian Gulf nations, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Conflict in or near to any of these places, including the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea or the Middle East, has the potential to affect Australia’s fuel supply. n
VICT – WAGE CUTS AND AUTOMATED JOBS A THREAT TO EVERY AUSTRALIAN WATERSIDE WORKER
How a single agreement allowing workers in the Philippines to do waterside jobs in Melbourne remotely threatens the destruction of the future of the Australian industry. Deputy national secretary Will Tracey reports
he Webb Dock (Victorian International Container Terminal) agreement, is a threat to the future wages and conditions of every Australian waterside worker. It undermines the proud history of struggle by generations of Australian waterside workers, their families and the communities in which they live to provide some of the best wages and conditions for workers in this country. Under the agreement for VICT’s Melbourne Webb Dock terminal we have seen approximately five jobs (gatehouse and shoreside equipment control - EC - roles) every 12 hour shift transferred to the Philippines. These were jobs being performed at this terminal when it commenced operations.
Wages in the Philippines are less than 25 per cent of the Australian stevedoring industry rate. Workers at the site tell us the company is saying that automated crane roles will be the next to go. For now we understand they won’t shift crane operator jobs to the Philippines until the critical issue of delays has been resolved. The implications of automated jobs shifting offshore for the stevedoring industry worldwide are dramatic. Companies are now able to relocate automated jobs to lower wage, non-union regions. If Rio Tinto can run their automated Pilbara operations – driverless trucks and trains and automated load-out facilities – more than a thousand kilometres away at Perth airport, companies can also operate ports from overseas.
Patrick Container Terminal Melbourne
DP World Container Terminal - Melbourne
$37.60 per hour flat for all hours worked – no penalties at all
$42.55 per hour plus penalties at 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 for shifts other than day work Monday to Friday
$38.57 per hour plus penalties at 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 for shifts other than day work Mon-Fri
$41.59 per hour plus penalties as per Patrick and DPW
Minimum Grade 6 Equivalent Annual Salary for 35-hour per week shift worker
$76,710 12-hour shifts worked
$128,802 8-hour shifts worked
$129,758 8-hour shifts worked
Penalty factors apply on shifts and weekends. Base rate is applied to time worked. The basis of the salary is the same rates as DPW Sydney and the equivalent earnings are comparable factoring in a shorter 30 hour working week.
$122,489 8-hour shifts worked on reduced roster
Crane driver minimum annual salary for 35-hour per shift work
$76,710 although most paid $94,770 12-hour shifts worked
$122,371 8-hour shifts worked
$117,488 8-hour shifts worked
Penalty factors apply on shifts and weekends. Base rate is applied to time worked. The basis of the salary is the same rates as DPW Sydney and the equivalent earnings are comparable factoring in a shorter 30 hour working week.
$113,241 8-hour shifts worked on reduced roster
Long Service Leave
0.867 weeks per year
1.3 weeks per year of service
1.3 weeks per year of service
1.3 weeks per year of service
1.3 weeks per year of service
Overtime paid after 8 hours worked - shift workers
Penalty rates on evening, night and weekend shifts at time and a half (1.5), double time (2.0) and double time and a half (2.5)
Yes – 2% of salary
Yes – 2% of salary
Yes – 2% of salary
Minimum engagement for hours worked
8 hours - 4 hours for certain nonoperational tasks
Yes – detailed clause
Yes – detailed clause
Yes - detailed clause
VICT Casual Rate
Hutchison Container Terminal Sydney
Consolidated allowance included by virtue of using the DPW permanent salary hourly rates as the base figure at Hutchison.
Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal $44.54 per hour plus penalties as per Patrick/DPW Includes cons allow
Note: VICT only run 2 x 12-hour shifts across its stevedoring operations. This is contrary to stevedoring industry standards in Australian Terminals of 3 x 8-hour shifts across every 24-hour day. The “Grade 6 equivalent” and “crane driver” salaries in the table above for Patrick, DP World, Hutchison and Flinders. It would be significantly higher again under a 12-hour shift system.
VICT already has undercut the container terminal industry rates and conditions by 40 per cent with an agreement that delivers wage cuts and the introduction of 12-hour shifts for stevedores. The concern is that other employers will use the VICT agreement to argue for lower wages and conditions in current EBA negotiations. They may also use the overseas worker model for their automated operations. The MUA finalised the Patricks agreement last year and the Flinders agreement in Adelaide just over three months ago. Now we have the other two key container terminal enterprise agreements under negotiation at Hutchison and DP World. As we fight for the new agreements at these container terminals, we must ensure that the VICT agreement is not used by employers as an argument to cut wages and conditions. This is the fight of our generation and needs your support. Above is a comparison table comparing the rates and conditions in the current VICT Collective Agreement against the key industry agreements across Australia’s container terminals including the two key container terminal agreements in the Port of Melbourne. n www.mua.org.au
ICTSI is a Philippines-based container terminal operator, which operates 30 container terminals globally. “No matter where you look across International Transport Workers’ Federation global network the company insists on running an anti-worker, union busting agenda,” International Transport Workers’ Federation President Paddy Crumlin said. An ITF report has identified severe labour violations throughout ICTSI’s global network - many in breach of domestic laws and contravene international labour conventions. The ITF has pulled together a website that documents ICTSI’s atrocious global behaviour, check it out here: https://ictsi.exposed/ To download the ITF report, ‘ICTSI: global turmoil spreads to flagship VICT terminal’, visit: https://goo.gl/ TA9kW8spreads to flagship VICT terminal’, visit https://goo.gl/TA9kW8
MELBOURNE PORT OPERATOR ICTSI MUST BE INVESTIGATED The Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union is calling for the contract won by ICTSI in 2014 to operate the third container terminal at the Port of Melbourne to be investigated by both the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. International President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said there were serious questions that needed to be answered about the probity and governance of the awarding of the contract to ICTSI. Crumlin was speaking at the launch of the report ICTSI Exposed, produced by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) at Parliament House, Canberra. “At the time the contract was awarded ICTSI was in business with the Government of Sudan while both the United Nations and United States had placed sanctions on doing business with the regime. “The President of Sudan was then - and still is today - wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. “Just as troubling is the financial relationship between ICTSI and the Government of Sudan who are listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. “Why would you hand over a sensitive and critical piece of infrastructure as a port terminal to a company with financial ties to a Government listed as a state sponsor of terrorism?” National Secretary Michael O’Connor said it was
INDONESIAN WHARFIES JOIN HUTCHISON EBA TALKS Indonesian union leader Suryansyah Bahar from JICT Hutchison Tanjung Priok joined MUA/CFMMEU wharfies in an historic EBA meeting at St Georges Basin in June. The talks, linking the struggles of wharfies in Indonesia and Australia come after a series of work deaths in Jakarta and one near death at Port Botany (see p12). “We’ve set in motion a joint bi-lateral campaign with a focus on starting a regional safety committee,” Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith reports. The bargaining committee elected to finalise the log of claims stated: “Hutchison is a huge multi-national global terminal operator,. It is highly profitable and has a poor track record on union and human rights in their terminals. Hutchison organises on an international scale across its international terminals. Hutchison workers will now be escalating our own internationalism and solidarity with other Hutchison workers internationally to stand up to the bullying and power of
Senator Glenn Sterle, WA with Paddy Crumlin, ITF President, speaking at the launch of ICTSI Exposed, Parliament House Canberra, 16 August
time for both levels of Government to commence an immediate inquiry into the ICTSI contract at the Port of Melbourne. “If you operate a sensitive and critical piece of economic infrastructure such as a port you must be held to the highest standards yet ICTSI has a long history of dealing with some of the worst and most dangerous governments in the world,” O’Connor said. “The minimum a responsible government should do is investigate these matters to reassure the public the operation of the terminal at the Port of Melbourne does not compromise our international obligations and meets the strictest of security standards.” You can find out more at ICTSI Exposed and sign our petition calling on Federal and State Government to investigate ICTSI.
this giant stevedore.” MEANWHILE the union succesfully appealed a record $3.7 million penalty by The Fair Work Ombudsman for contravention of the Fair Work Act The Ombudsman had also ordered a $620,000 in compensation for alleged loss by Hutchison during the safety dispute arising from a near death collision at the terminal. The fine has now been reduced to $38,000.00 in penalties with no compensation payable.
After concerted union action Neptune Diving has dropped its move to cancel its offshore diving agreement and cut offshore diving rates back to the Award minimum. Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey reports once the union commenced legal action and a campaign against the company it withdrew its application. “We also made it very clear that the entire MUA membership including divers and marine crews would campaign on any vessel and across any project that engaged Neptune Diving,”
Right: Warren Smith, Assistant National Secretary, addressing the CFMMEU picket Port Kembla on May Day. Sixty CFMEU workers were locked out at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal for four days over a pay dispute in January.
said Tracey. “We were organising a visit with the bus and membership to Neptune’s offices after the next stop work meeting to protest. We told Neptune to be prepared for a dispute.” Tracey said the move by Neptune would have had a disastrous effect, decimating offshore diving rates and conditions across the entire offshore diving industry. It would have put pressure on all offshore diving companies to reduce their rates and conditions to win contracts. “Neptune have responded and informed the MUA and Fair Work that they will withdraw their application to cancel their agreement and discontinue the legal proceedings
“Significant disputes with Qube have arisen in Whyalla, SA, Port Kembla, Tasmania and WA. The pattern of disputes with Qube centre around order of pick for allocation; application of annual accrued hours; as well as the company’s consistent reluctance to provide data as required and work within agreed parameters around labour reviews,” Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith reports.
FIRE ON BOARD
to reduce wages and conditions for offshore divers,” said Tracey.
The union successfully finalised 17 national Qube agreements during the 20th anniversary of the Patrick Lockout. Rallies were centred at Webb Dock, Melbourne during the dispute. Melbourne wharfies walked off the job when the company sought to terminate the agreement in April on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Patrick Lockout in March. Qube was seeking a 40% pay cut and provoked workers in Melbourne by removing long-established rosters and pushing for excessive working hours. www.mua.org.au
A seafarer raised the alarm on board the Iron Chieftain bulk carrier alongside Port Kembla before dawn on 18 June, after noticing smoke coming from the entry door to the cargo tunnel during his rounds. SNSW Branch Secretary Garry Keane and National Training Safety Officer Michael Cross report the crew mustered and fought the blaze until local fire authorities arrived on scene and took over. All crew were accounted for and ordered to leave the vessel by the local fire commander. The Port Authority engaged Svitzer tugs to boundary cool the hull outboard side, adjacent to the fuel tank, portside. The
response from the Svitzer crews was fast and professional – a critical component to controlling the fire. Upwards of 100 firefighters worked to control the blaze. Some of the crew had nothing but their coveralls they fought the fire with when they evacuated the ship. The fire continued to burn for the next four days. The Iron Chieftain will be retired due to significant damage sustained during the fire and the union is in talks with owner CSL for it to be replaced with another Australian crewed vessel. n Iron Chieftain
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
VICTORY ON THE 20th WATERFRONT
Labor leaders from around the nation and around the world came together in Melbourne in April to commemorate the anniversary of one of the biggest union disputes in Australian history and its greatest victory
maritime workers It was a bitter sweet victory. When 800 the Melbourne at ther toge e cam and the labor fraternity anniversary of the Convention Centre in April for the 20th commemorate a win to 1998 MUA Patrick Dispute it was both and to pay tribute to the fallen. e wharfie, ‘super delegate’ Special tribute was paid to Melbourn lockout and a “powerhouse George Flask, 55, a veteran of the 1998 re the commemoration. in his workforce”. He died just days befo breakups,” International riage “Many died, many ended up in mar itime and Mining Union Mar stry Fore President of the Construction a minute’s silence. Paddy Crumlin said before calling for Anzac Day of the trade The 1998 dispute is, in many ways, the unlike all the catastrophic and poli union movement. But unlike Galli the unions won. 1998 in , 1928 and union defeats of 1890, 1917 demonstrates the courage “It’s not the Anzac tradition alone that for in the nation, it is the and the moral fibre of what we stand ad through war and peace, thre labour movement, the continuous community standards, our and ity mun that has secured our com that has secured the ability that has secured our moral fibre, and lin told the gathering. “It to differentiate against injustice,” Crum put the collectivism in the who was the working men and women ity.” workplace and the commun Bill Shorten accompanied by Leader of the Australian Labor Party, ts of honour. his deputy, Tanya Plibersek were gues MUA and the union the “I want to say a big thank you to ed,” said Shorten. “Where help who e movement and to all of thos creating fair distribution of there are strong unions bargaining and tide that lifts all boats in the income earned then that is the rising economy.” t was Secretary of the First among the speakers on the nigh itime Division, Christy Cain. Western Australian branch of the Mar neck - even now – as we “The hairs just go up on the back of your . said he ,” 1998 think back to what happened in e of) the most “(on as the n, unio r Cain hailed the new supe ns in this country”. powerful, militant, organised trade unio that dispute 20 years ago “It isn’t worth thinking about if we lost y, Michael O’Conner. etar secr where we’d be today,” said general nt in this country, like eme mov n unio e “What I do know is the trad
tries, is on life support. We trade union movements in other coun the private sector. This new have one in 10 workers in a union in ns in the country are going union is going to change that, all the unio to change that.” er driver on the Ron Jones, a Wurundjeri elder and own try. coun to ome welc the gave Melbourne wharves that man was,” he told grel mon a t wha and over us took “Patrick I would have pointed it at him.” the crowd. “I tell you if I’d had a bone Unions in 1998, Bill Kelty Secretary of the Australian Council of had made to the Australian listed the many contributions the MUA supporting land rights to labor movement and community from l super, and to safeguarding ersa fighting apartheid, introducing univ Medicare. good cause,” he said. “We “We were on the side of the MUA for p of people. The absolute won the dispute because of one grou selves.” them heroes were the waterside workers teeth on the Port Botany her cut anus ACTU secretary, Sally McM picket as a young organiser in 1998. change a whole people “Sometimes things happen and they ns of people,” she said. ratio or a whole generation or many gene they say if something and now this “Scientists have looked into enough, and in a way happens that is big enough and collective and that DNA gets passed traumatic enough, it can change DNA tly how I see the MUA exac s through the generations. And that’ greater trade union family the us ged chan y dispute. It fundamentall n of warriors.” - all of us. This dispute forged a generatio sport Workers’ Tran General Secretary of the International leadership as great MUA the ed Federation, Steve Cotton recognis internationalists. new union we have “When we talk about the MUA and the the international union to recognise what the MUA has given y one of you make me ever and movement over 100 years. Each here.” is nal natio inter immensely proud that the Longshore and nal natio Inter the of t iden Outgoing Pres honoured for the role his Warehouse Union, Bob McEllrath was ur-loaded Columbus labo n union played blocking the non-unio ed States. Unit the in s port t Canada entry to West Coas dispute and that the the t abou ed learn we n whe “Back in 1998
“It’s not the Anzac tradition alone that demonstrates the courage and the moral fibre of what we stand for as a nation, it is the labour movement that is the continuous thread through war and peace that has secured our community and our community standards, that has secured our moral fibre” - PADDY CRUMLIN
Bob McEllrath ILWU and Paddy Crumlin
Wesley Furtado, Willie Adams and Ray Familathe ILWU
Christy Cain, MUA, WA
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
“We won the dispute because of one group of people. The absolute heroes, were the waterside workers themselves” - BILL KELTY
Ron Jones, a Wurundje ri elder
Opposition leaders Bill Sh orten, Tanya Plibersek, Mic hael O’Conner
“Where there are strong unions bargaining and creating fair distribution of income earned then that is the rising tide that lifts all boats in the economy.” - BILL SHORTEN
Steve Cotton, ITF Secre tary
Tony Slevin and Tony Ma her
“I want to thank everyone who helped to save the waterfront, to save the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and to keep us all going into the future.” - JOHN COOMBS
It fundamentally changed us - the greater trade union family - all of us. This dispute forged a generation of warriors.” - SALLY McMANUS
Columbus Canada wa s coming over here , we said we have to this battle for the MU win A because we are go ing to be next. For the longshoremen 17 days refused to unload th at ship and that’s wh solidarity and that’ at I call s what this is all ab ou t tonight.” Those who could no t attend in person spoke from the vid compiled by a MUA eo film unit for the nig ht. “The union moveme nt is essential to de mocracy. If you wa to repress a society nt kill union democra cy first,” said Kim Be opposition leader in asley, 1998. “This dispute will go down in history as one of the seminal that the labour mo disputes vement ever faced . And I’m mighty ch the opportunity to uffed I had be part of it.” said AC TU president at the crisis, Jenny George time of the . “It was like a David and Goliath struggle really with the powe state against a union r of the and the union move ment ,” she said. “It paramilitary operati was like a on. The country ha d never seen anyth “I remember the so ing like it.” und of helicopters in the air,” said for Melbourne official mer Dick Ryan. “The co ppers read out the riot act.
Will Tracey, WA
Then the CFMEU ca me down from the back of them. The realised they were coppers in a pincer situatio n - they had them back and the front at the of them.” Former seafarer, Ka ren Levy, recalled the big toll the disp had on families. “T ute he men weren’t at work. They had so stress and the wo much men were there to be the glue that he together. ” ld it all National presiden t in 1998 , Jimmy Donovan paid tribu retired MUA natio te to nal secretary John Coombs: “The leader of cour se was John Coom bs. There’s no doub in my mind, we wo t n the blue. We got back in the gate. W 100 per cent union e’re in all those ports th ey walked wharfie off the job.” s John Coombs was unable to attend on the night due to hi failing health. The s message he sent via the video was to th everyone who help ank ed “to save the wa terfront, to save th and to keep us all e MUA going again into th e future.” n
Troy Gray, Mich-Elle My ers, Je Lance McCallum, Shaun ss Rogers and Reardon
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
HER ES e got a tip off earlier in the day that a ship was coming in and scab labour were going to load it,” Silky recalls. “So we had to find a way to turn the ship around.” The pair came up with the idea of getting in a boat and making it unsafe for the ship to berth - dangerous for the ship and even more so for them. “I took a surfboard, Eddie took a wave ski and we piled up on Eddie’s boat. There was about, I dunno, 8-10 of us. We saw the ship come around Darling Harbour and we went ‘Righto what do we do now?’ So me and Eddie jumped in the water. We were shitting ourselves. Absolutely shitting ourselves. We were probably 25 metres from the vessel. We were kinda getting sucked in towards the front end of the ship. It got too dangerous.” The crew were up on the deck leaning over and shooing the men to get out of the way.
Images: Steven Siewert Photographer
Cooper (Silky) Silk, DP World, and his mate Eddie Woodward were among a bunch of wharfies who became heroes when they put themselves between a ship and the wharves at Darling Harbour in April 1998
Images: Steven Siewert Photographer
They paddled back to the boat. “Then someone came up with the idea of wedging the boat between the ship and the wharf. At the same time we got a megaphone out and were yelling at the scabs ‘You dirty scabs, you’re not gonna win’. We gave them a big spray. “Meanwhile the ship was getting closer and closer and closer to us and as you can see in the photo they’re looking down at us. We were five metres from the wharf and we knew (if we stayed) we were going to get crushed,” Up on the point overlooking the wharves a crowd gathered to whistle and cheer them on. “We were sweet with the linesman and the pilot boats as well,” said Silky. “They were the ones that gave us the heads up it was coming in and they made the call when it was too dangerous with the ship alongside. They took the ship back out to the Heads. So we won that battle. We went back to the tent at 5 Darling Harbour. Everyone was cheering and carrying on. So we all went up to the Captain Cook Hotel and celebrated well into the night.” There are conflicting reports on whether the Direct Falcon came back in under cover of dark. But “we won the day” says Silky. Cooper went on to become an MUA idol, winning a place in the union film unit alongside Viron Papadopoulos and Jamie McMechan a few years later. He also became a job delegate but left the wharves a couple of years back after a back injury. Silky now runs RadioHub, a successful podcast startup, and produces the MUA’s Radio Stingray. n
n Newcastle wharfie Scott Jordan remembers two things about jumping into the water that day, 20 years ago. He was angry and it was bloody cold
t was just after they brought the dogs into Sydney and it got everyone in the union wanting do anything to stop these blokes,” said Scott. “Just seeing my fellow union members losing their jobs and scab labour taking over. I felt pretty angry”. The Newcastle Conaust wharfie was working at the Kooragang coal loader when word came in the scabs were coming down. A ship was on its way to the Patrick wharves to load zinc. “Eight or 10 of us stopped work and went around to the wharf,” he recalls. “The scabs kept inside the amenities room trying to keep out of sight the whole time. They didn’t come out. They were too scared I guess. But we saw bits of them. Some were wearing balaclavas, others covered their faces with white sheets like the Klu Klux Klan. “All of us got together and thought we have to put something between the bollards and the wharf to stop the ship berthing,” said Scott. “We decided that was us.” The men stripped out of their jeans, t-shirts and jumpers, down to their shorts. They had to stop the scab labour loading the vessel. As the ship approached they dived in. “It was a freezing,” Scott recalls. “A cold westerly was blowing. But our emotions were all fired up inside. People were taking our jobs and it didn’t matter what we were going to do to stop the ship coming in. ‘You’re not
doing it in Newcastle’, we said. ‘You’re not doing it anywhere’.” And it didn’t. “I think the crew and everyone were on our side,” Scott recalls. “The crew were calling out. I could hear their solidarity chants and they had their hands up in solidarity. The pilot too. It was a big dispute. We had a lot of international support.” The men were instructed to get out before they got crushed. But they turned the ship around. The vessel and the scabs left and never came back. “They were heroes. No scab cargo was ever loaded at Newcastle during the dispute,” said Branch Secretary Glen Williams. “Some of the women and our workmates got towels out of their cars and helped dry us off,” said Scott. “We stayed down there for a few more hours to make sure the vessel didn’t return, then went back and sat on the main picket line around the corner. It was around midday. Lunchtime.” Scott, a third generation wharfie, now linesman, was working on the wharves with his dad back then. His grandfather Robert Rose was the branch secretary of the Waterside Workers’ Federation. “I’m proud of what we did,” said Scott. “I took my son down so I could tell him the story. I wanted to show him where it happened. I will remember it forever – the day I jumped in the harbour to help my mates and stop the ship coming in. I’ll never forget it.” n
“It was freezing. A cold westerly was blowing. But our emotions were all fired up inside.”
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
TERROR ON BOARD Were special commandos trained not just to be deployed against Australian waterside workers in 1998, but against Australian seafarers? MUA seafarer Brian Gallagher found out first hand
round midnight on 15 January, 1998, Brian Gallagher came face to face with a bunch of gun toting soldiers wearing balaclavas and infra-red night goggles. It was approaching midnight and the MUA seafarer, one of the crew on board the Australian National Line (ANL) Australian Enterprise, was on his way down the ship’s corridor to the toilets before his next shift, when he heard them approach. “Five or six men, their heads covered, ran up behind me from the starboard side of the ship yelling and screaming at me to get down. “They were waving automatic weapons with laser beams fixed at the end to site their target in the dark,” he said in an interview with the Maritime Workers’ Journal (MWJ) in 1998. “One of them pointed his weapon at me and kept yelling to get down. I put my hands in the air and said: “Steady up mate, I’m just going for a piss”. But as Brian turned to go one soldier grabbed him around the throat and threw him to the floor.
“He pointed his gun at my head. I was scared. Very scared,” said Brian. “I didn’t know what was going on or who was behind the mask.” A shipmate came out of the rec room and called out to the soldiers that Brian was a crew member. The soldier apologised and ran down the corridor. “As soon as they let me go, they kept going through the ship, guns pointed,” he said. That day the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) troops were conducting a military exercise on board the vessel in the port of Fremantle. The crew were told it was in preparation against a terrorist attack during the Olympic Games. They were assured the SAS would keep out of the crew quarters and operations.
SAS ship raid captured by crew
Geoff Tickle (facing camera) and crew mates dine on the deck of the Australian Endeavour
“He pointed his gun at my head. I was scared. Very scared. I didn’t know what was going on or who was behind the mask” Brian remained on board when the Australian Enterprise sailed to Singapore then back via Malaysia to Brisbane. “My neck was sore as hell from that choker hold. It was all red where they grabbed me,” he said. “It had a big effect on me. I was jumping out of my sleep.” On his return to Australia, Brian saw a doctor. He says he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Crew collected the spent bullets fired from the Heckler & Kosh MP5 9mm sub-machine gun and handed them over to the union when the vessel berthed. Armed with the photo taken by crew, the MUA placed a call to the office of the minister for defence (and former president of the National Farmers’ Federation), Ian McLachlan to get more details of the ‘exercise’ and the armoury. McLachlan’s media advisor took the call. “The MUA?,” he asked, incredulous. “Wait until we see what we’ve got in store for you!!” Twenty years on Brian Gallagher is working as a linesman in Brisbane. With hindsight he sees the event as even more sinister than first thought. “The captain of the vessel was ex-navy. He was very high up, I’m told. I later heard via one of the officers he’d been meeting in Sydney about the upcoming dispute and how to get us off the ships. But I never got the chance to sit down and ask him. He died some years back. Still I believe to this day that was part of their plan. I always thought the dispute was also about getting us off the ships, not just off the wharves.” Brian said he took a couple of years to fully recover from the attack. “You get over it. But you never forget. It was a scary moment,” he recalls. “I was thrown to the deck and had a gun put to my head. It was traumatic.” Next swing Brian was sent back to work the same ship. “The captain said – ‘What are you doing back here?’, Brian recalls. “It was like being haunted being back there. Eerie. “I did that run. But when I came back I went and saw counsellors. I thought jeez how close was that? That was my last trip on the ANL Australian Enterprise.” Soon after the Patrick dispute ended in 1998, the Howard Government privatised the ANL. n www.mua.org.au
THE ENDEAVOUR Was the SAS exercise on board the Australian Enterprise just a dummy run for the Australian Endeavour?
ensions were high outside the gates at Patrick, Port Botany on April 12, 1998. The union crewed ANL Australian Endeavour was to arrive that afternoon. And Patrick scabs were inside the gate waiting. The media waited. The union officials huddled outside the gates, mobile phones to their ears. But the Endeavour remained off the coast. On board out of view of the television cameras or port security bosun Geoff Tickle stood on the fo’c’sle with two mobile phones listening to two sets of instructions on what to do. “The skipper and the mates wanted to know what was going on,” he told MWJ. “We were going into the port. We weren’t going in.” When the call came to bring the vessel in the crew got to work. “I tap welded the hatch lids,” said Geoff. “Then we got all the bars used to open the hatches and hid them. We tightened the lashing bars with huge rods so they couldn’t undo them. We didn’t weld the bottle screws, they were bar tightened.” “When the scabs came on board and asked ‘Where’s all the bars to open the hatches?’ I said I wouldn’t have a clue. “The wharfies look after that,’” Geoff recalls. The crew took shifts of heckling the scabs as they worked. “Instead of taking them an hour to unload 24 containers it took 24 hours just to get one container off,” he chuckles. Assistant National Secretary Mick Doleman visited the ship under police escort to address the crew on the union stance. “They donated several thousand dollars towards the campaign and carried resolutions of solidarity with the wharfies at Port Botany and around the country,” he said. “We were suspicious that this was a set up,” said Mick. “Rumours circulated that a foreign crew ready to replace the Australian crew had they refused to allow the discharge of the cargo.” Geoff initially refused to allow the gangway to go down after hearing a busload of Croatian seafarers was waiting on the wharves. Someone said they were for another ship. “No doubt the government were very disappointed that we did not fall into that trap,” said Mick. The crew did however, refuse to go down the gangway at the end of shift. “We were not paying off and crossing the picket,” said Geoff. “So we lowered the gangway on the other side of the ship. They brought in a Stannard launch to take us to a non Patrick wharf.” Looking back Geoff has two big regrets. “The lockout resolved in our favour. But we ended up losing the vessels. And I would have liked to see (IR minister Peter) Reith who did deal with Corrigan go to the wall.” Deputy national secretary at the time was Tony Papaconstuntinos. To this day he argues it was treacherous to bring the ship in and the union should have held a national stoppage. n
HEROES PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
STRADDLE WARFARE It began before midnight on 7 April. Black clad security guards, attack dogs and men in balaclavas invaded the wharves by boat and by helicopter nationwide. All around Australia the Patrick workforce was locked out - all except East Swanson Dock, Melbourne, where a gang of straddle drivers heroically held their ground and made history.
Doug Bailey and workmates
Images courtesy Bastard Boys
oug Bailey remembers the night vividly. “I was one of the last to get in before the gates were locked. We were about to start shift, but when we got there we found a bit of mayhem going on. Someone had set off all the alarms in the reefer area. One of our boys was driving around in a ute like a madman, chasing security guards and Alsatian dogs. Craig Roper was among the first to sound the alarm: “We could see security guards coming across the wharf with dogs, carrying a lot of bags and gear. So panic set in. I took off screaming and ran into the mess room. Some of the guys were already there. I was yelling – ‘They’re here, they’re here, it’s on! Someone yelled – ‘Get to the straddles, they’re gonna try throw us out. We’re gonna get them, we’re gonna fix them.’” Six or eight workers manned the straddles and made chase. “Guys were screaming on the radio – “They’re over here, over here under Crane 3. They’re under crane 4,” said Craig. “It was just like kill or be killed. We wouldn’t be taken alive.” John (Paddo) Paterson was already in his straddle working when the invasion began. “We saw them come in by boat and put their bags on the rocks. We just decided to go after them. That was a bit of fun. The guards were trying to stop the straddles by putting their hands up in the air.” Weighing around 74 tonnes each, the straddles could only clock up around 25 kilometres per hour but were formidable and became the tanks of the dock war. “Some of the guards were taking cover behind large concrete barricades taunting us,” Doug recalls. “One of the boys nudged the barricade with his straddle and they ran.” The straddles herded the guards back into a corner. There they huddled on a tiny jetty clinging onto their bags. There was no way out. There were no boats there. They were stuck. “We reclaimed the wharves as ours,” said Doug. “It took an hour or two. But they all retreated.” When the workplace was clear, the straddle operators met their workmates in the mess room. The company gates were locked. “We stayed in the amenities building. There were no security guards in there, just us,” said Doug. “We locked ourselves in.” The men played a bit of cards to kill the time – ‘Red Aces’, a traditional wharfies’ game. Others hunched around the TV
“We reclaimed the wharves as ours. It took an hour or two. But they all retreated.” hearing the drama unfold in other ports. They had the radio going at the same time. They got on their mobile phones to communicate with the union and let their families know they were alright. “Most of us paced up and down looking through the windows only to see the black dressed hoods and dogs were back,” said fellow straddle driver Murray Kent. “The 27 of us stayed up all night and all the next day and into the night again without sleep.” The union organised a police escort the following evening. “We held our ground until the union officials reached an agreement,” said Doug. “When we came out there was quite a fanfare – it was all a bit rock star-like. “Looking back, it was quite dangerous – not for us, for them,” he recalls. “But there was a fair bit of anger at the time. We were pretty upset. They had taken Webb Dock over a couple of months prior so there was already a lot of bad blood and anger. We were defending what was ours. It was an act of defiance. We were telling them “you’re not taking this as well.” n POSTSCRIPT: This iconic battle was reenacted for the opening scene ‘Invasion’ in the ABC series on the waterfront dispute Bastard Boys. Doug and others acted as extras for the drama. The producers allowed the MUA film unit to use some of the footage , and stills above, for the 10th anniversary film which is available on MUA’s YouTube channel.
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
PLOT Greg Combet on the Melbourne Picket, 1998
Artwork by Bill Hay
Greg Combet remembers the high drama of the waterfront conspiracy in his interview with Jamie McMechan of the MUA film unit
e got a leak. John Coombs got a phone call from someone who said he was friend number one …. we were having a dinner at Town Hall for the Republic at the time. Malcolm Turnbull was there. “What had taken place, which was very secret, was that (Patrick boss) Chris Corrigan had done a deal with (then prime minister) John Howard. They’d worked together devising a strategy to sack everyone in the Patrick operation and replace them with nonunion labour. The strike force they were going to use were ex-SAS (Special Air Service Regiment) and army people. They organised to train them in Dubai to spearhead the attack on the union. “We sprang them with a few TV crews when they were flying out at Melbourne airport. “John Coombs was a player at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) at a senior level. When we explained what was going on, the ITF threw their full weight behind us. They made it very clear to the Dubai Port Authority that this was playing with fire. “The training experience for the ex-SAS soldiers blew up. Their right to stay in Dubai was under question and they came back to Australia with their tails between their legs. The ex-SAS guys, though, wanted to be paid. They went and sniffed Corrigan and asked where the money was. They really got the shits and that’s when they contacted John Coombs and I directly. They said “if you want to know what’s going on here, we’ll tell you.” “I remember we went to meet them in St Kilda in Melbourne. It was a clandestine set up in a pub – the Prince of Wales. I thought I was a bystander in a James Bond movie and of course they were super spooky and quite threatening. One guy just lifted a brief case and showed us he had a gun inside.
“On 29 January the wharfies rang up and said they had been locked out. Corrigan had leased out Webb Dock in Melbourne. I raced down and of course among the new workforce were a number of the ex SAS guys who had been re-engaged by Corrigan and
put back to work. They used it as at training facility to train the non-union workforce. “We set up a picket line pretty quickly. But we were very mindful by that time of all of the weapons arrayed against us. It was really the first serious invitation to a secondary boycott.
goodies. We made sure people understood that if this could be done to workers in the most militant, best organised, toughest part of the economy where trade unionism was its strongest, what hope did you have? “At that time in Australia there was a lot of concern about job security. There still is.”
“7 April was a big day. I got a call at around 1.30 am. Corrigan had started moving people off the waterfront with dogs and men in balaclavas. It started on the night shift. “Corrigan quickly advised the labour hire companies (that we didn’t know existed) had been put into administration. And as a consequence the workforce was terminated. “What he’d done over these months was to keep the assets – that is the container terminals and his waterfront infrastructure – in the Patrick companies. He had created a Patrick labour hire firm and all it did was employ the wharfies. It had no assets. “All he had to do when he wanted to walk everyone off the waterfront, sack them, terminate them and lock them out with dogs and security guards was to terminate the labour hire contract. And that’s what he did on 7 April. “We knew from Dubai what we were up against…. we set about raising money to support the guys when they were walked off the job. We organised pickets. We’d engaged all of the regional trades and labour councils around the country to organise the mass mobilisation we needed.
“A really key thing in all of that was when I was visited by two lawyers Josh Bornstein and Mordy Bromberg. This gave us a legal strategy. (See page 20)
“Polling and research showed public opinion was about 86% against the union. Peter Reith had been banging on for 18 months about what bludgers everyone was. But by the time we got into April that had turned around into about 80% in our favour. “Part of that was us getting our message right and being able to show the injustice that had been done and the sneaky skull duggery. “It was a capitalist versus labour dispute. There was investment banker Chris Corrigan cooking up schemes to terminate his workforce, conniving with John Howard. They were the baddies and John Coombs quickly made sure the union was the
“Chris Corrigan couldn’t have done all of this without the support of the banks. His company borrowed a couple of hundred million from memory and he had to make payments on it. And yet here he was plotting to sack his whole workforce and basically shut his whole operation down. “By late April John Coombs and I started to get little feelers: “I won’t tell you my name but I work for X bank. We’re lenders to Chris Corrigan - we’re just trying to stress test where you think this is going.” “They were starting to get very nervous. We also knew the pressure on him to negotiate would become acute.”
The judgement was a 6 to 1 win. By the time all the appeals were heard 10 out of 11 judges ruled in the union’s favour. “We had invested a lot in the legal strategy with this dispute,” said Combet. “If we’d have lost the court case it would have been an enormous blow. We were going to fight on. “You have to go back to The Depression or the 1890s to find an industrial dispute of this scale. We were under immense stress. We lived it seven days a week, almost 24 hours a day. Lots of kids didn’t see their fathers - we were all men pretty much. There was a lot of hardship, especially for members of the union employed by Patrick, who were locked out. They had so much guts. “I hope that people see it not as a remote historical event. What it was about was the rights of working people – a very contemporary issue. I hope people can see the power of organised labour fighting for justice. It’s a very powerful movement.” n
“There was a lot of hardship, especially for members of the union employed by Patrick who were locked out. They had so much guts.” www.mua.org.au
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
PHOTO: JEREMY PIPER
Josh Bornstein counts among his ancestors Harry Bridges, the legendary Australian seafarer who jumped ship in San Francisco in the Roaring Twenties and organised the west coast longshore workers. His mum was a union organiser; his dad a Labor politician. Coming up with a winning legal strategy to beat Patrick and the government was personal. Sometimes too personal he tells Jamie McMechan of the MUA Film Unit. But together with Julien Burnside QC, Josh Bornstein, Mordy Bromberg, Herman Borenstein â€“ the B Team â€“ the union won.
was not approached by the unions for help - I approached them. “I was watching the news reports where Chris Corrigan was very clearly trying to pick a fight and engaging in what I thought was illegal conduct. At the time I didn’t act for the Maritime Union and I hadn’t met Greg Combet. But I kept watching this dispute and thinking why haven’t they hit back? They should be taking these bastards to court. “I was actually angry. I said bugger this and picked up the phone and rang Combet. He took my call. I told him we’ll act pro bono and initially we did (eventually Patrick paid the legal bills).
PHOTO: JEREMY PIPER
“In legal circles there were rumours flying around the place that legal teams had been assembled to sue the MUA. It was expected that in response to the provocations the MUA would follow a certain script and go on a nationwide strike. So lawyers had already been briefed to jump on them in court, to sue them under the Trade Practices Act, to sue them under Workplace Relations Act – to clobber them. “I rang my favourite barrister (former Australian Rules footballer) Mordy Bromberg. When we went to see Combet we said here’s the script that has been laid out for you. You’ve got to tear that script up and completely blindside them. And the way to do that is to go on the front foot in court. Herman was very focused on using a part of the law he’d used back during the pilots’ dispute, which was the law of conspiracy. I was focused on the Workplace Relations Act because, although it is there to help bosses, it is also going to be powerful where they are clearly targeting union members. Under the Freedom of Association provisions, there is the power to go on the front foot and seek an injunction. COURT VICTORY (left): Port Botany wharfies carry MUA national secretary, John Coombs on their shoulders in celebration. “Coombs listened to advice and took advice. He wore the weight of the world on his shoulders at the time. He was incredibly protective and determined to see the MUA survive when the odds were against it. I have tremendous respect for John.” - Maurice Blackman principal, Josh Bernstein, MUA legal team 1998 “The workers are the heroes of the dispute. But one hero in the dispute represented the workers and that was John Coombs.” - Bill Kelty, secretary ACTU (1998)
“Easter was coming. We started getting leaks that they were going to move on the workers. So we all went to a big pow-wow (with the union) in QC Julien Burnsides’ chambers. “We needed evidence, so we decided to write to Chris Corrigan and ask him what the hell was going on. “‘Are you going to sack all the unionised workers on the docks? Please give us understanding you won’t do that. “And he didn’t respond. “That was enough evidence for us to lodge a case in the Federal Court to get an injunction to stop the sackings.
“They tried to take over the docks the night before the hearing. We didn’t find out about Patrick 1 and 2 and the assets stripping until we got ambushed with it the night after the dogs went on the docks. “We’d been in court all that day fighting to stop anyone getting sacked. Emotions were running very high. We’d been ambushed with this corporate restructure, about which we knew nothing. We were fighting a case not just about the Fair Work Act, but insolvency under the Corporations Law. “The essential crux of the case was that Patricks, together with the Commonwealth Government and the farmers, had set about a plan to deunionise the waterfront. “We know from documents that emerged during the course of the dispute that a plan was hatched to do exactly that.
“Whenever you go to court to seek an injunction you have to persuade the court of two things – that you have a reasonable argument that the law has been broken (and) if the court doesn’t intervene it (won’t be able to) repair the damage. My objective, which I was single mindedly trying to focus on, was to get
the workers back in the door. “It was like a roller coaster. You had the highs, then they appealed again. We were running on adrenaline. The pressure was off the charts. Everyone stopped a bit like they do for the Melbourne Cup (for the decision). But we won. And it changed my life. “Lawyers are not meant to be emotionally caught up in their cases because the more detached you are the better your legal advice will be. “The challenge for me was to keep a lid on my emotions. But from time to time I failed. When Justice North handed down his decision I started to cry. Just quietly. This was just a powder keg of a dispute in my life. “If they’d knocked off the MUA, they would start knocking off other unions. We planted a flag in the sand and said you are not going past this point.
“I recall going down to the docks. I was invited by Jennie George and Greg Combet (ACTU) to go down and stand on a chair and address the workers. “So I said to them – you’ve stuck to us all this way, we’ve asked you to make all these sacrifices, you’ve shown enormous discipline now you’ve been asked to go back without pay, but also to work with people you’d rather not work with. And I remember saying this very vividly “Even if they come up to you and spit in your face I want you to walk away. If you retaliate, if there is any sense of violence or conflict we will be in trouble in the courts. I need you to show the restraint of Mahatma Gandhi.
“It was a huge privilege to work alongside great people, but also to pitch a strategy taking a risk and go on the front foot. Don’t give your enemy what it wants. Come with me, take a different path. “After that dispute, unions followed the same path as the MUA.” n
“It was like a roller coaster. You had the highs, then they appealed again. We were running on adrenaline. The pressure was off the charts. Everyone stopped a bit like they do for the Melbourne Cup (for the decision). But we won.” www.mua.org.au
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary in 1988, Bill Kelty has gone down in history for calling the “biggest picket line that’s ever been assembled in this country”. In his speech to the 20th anniversary dinner in Melbourne in April he outlines why the MUA had the labour movement’s full backing
BIGGEST PICKET on Bill Kelty, Jennie George and comrades the Melbourne picket
e knew that this would be the fight of our lives for unionism. “We were on the side of the MUA for good cause. The Seamen’s Union (and the Waterside Workers’ Federation) was supporting indigenous people in the 1950s and 1960s when nobody else would. “We were on the side of the MUA when they said we will support Nelson Mandela and we will have the best industrial action in the world to support him when other people said he was a terrorist. “Everybody in this room, everyone outside this room, more importantly has been impacted by the MUA. Everyone has superannuation because of the MUA. Every wage, every condition, every person in this country owes something to the MUA. “We did get told the night before the (ACTU) Congress in Brisbane, the day Princess Diana died (31 August 1998) that they had made the decision to man the waterfront and have the dispute. That day we knew the fight was on. We planned for it. “I sat down with John Coombs and I told him we would give him absolute support, more support than any union has ever received in the history of this country. “We waited for the show to begin. And it did begin and in real style. They sacked the workers with dogs at night at Easter – demeaning working people doing their jobs. They cheered themselves and they laughed. “The legal team were magnificent. They gave the best legal advise. We had the best picket, in fact the biggest most effective picket in Australian history and we organised the best funding - $6million - to support the locked-out workers.
Photos: Glenn Lockitch, Alan Barron, Tony McDonough and others
“The strategy was one in, one out. We’d keep one employer going and get the employers hating each other. That way you don’t cause massive harm to the Australian community. “We won the dispute but not because of us. We won it because of one group of people, the waterside workers themselves. They were the heroes in every respect. They were prepared to be disciplined, to not to accept a single redundancy package. They are the people the Australian public owe. “It’s true that (Patrick executives) Corrigan and Scanlan made a lot of money. They live in rich places, in rich houses, but that’s not because of us. The government failed - the surplus generated out of waterfront reform went to (Corrigan and Scanlan) not the consumers. “One thing that records the MUA victory, and not the loss, was when the union entered into enterprise agreements here and across Australia - unionism as a vital bargaining agent was not weakened but strengthened. “Real wages improved across this country for working people because the union movement stood up and fought. “I love unions, I always have. I’ve always loved that sense of comradeship and commitment. I always believed that unions are the central part of democracy. Australian unions are an essential part of what has made this nation. “The best unionism is that which sings in chorus. The best unions are those that stand up for their members and stand up for everybody; that represent the spirit and aspirations of working people. Unionism makes this country better by giving a sense of vibrancy and commitment. “It made it better demonstrably by health care, super, the fight for indigenous rights, the fight for Nelson Mandela. We are union and proud because we care for everybody.” n
“We won the dispute not because of us. We won it because of one group of people. The waterside workers themselves. They were the heroes in every respect.” www.mua.org.au
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
hat I’m going to give you will bring this government down. Together we will bring this government down,” a defector told MUA Brisbane Branch Secretary Col Davies. Twenty years ago on 7 May, six out of seven judges found an arguable case of unlawful conspiracy against Chris Corrigan and ‘others’. Soon after, new cabinet documents signed by then Prime Minister John Howard surfaced showing the government had instigated the plot to sack the unionised workforce and replace them with nonunion labour. (see overleaf) “Had the matter gone to court, Corrigan would have been chopped liver. Howard would have been chopped liver,” union lawyer Josh Bernstein tells Jamie McMechan of the MUA film unit. So why didn’t the case go to a full trial? Bernstein understands that a lot of people wanted to see justice done, wanted to see Peter Reith, then minister for employment and workplace relations, in the witness box and the Federal Government made accountable for its participation in an illegal conspiracy. But in industrial relations terms, the decision was pretty straight forward. “In IR litigation whoever obtains the injunction has the strong hand in any bargaining to cut a deal and resolve the dispute,” said Bernstein. “Until the waterfront dispute changed things, during the previous 100 years it was employers who got injunctions against unionists then used the legal system to negotiate an outcome favourable to the employer. In the waterfront dispute we turned that on its head.” Filing for an injunction to stop the sackings the union had to prove two things - that it could be argued the law had been broken and that if the sackings were not stopped, the damage could not be reversed. Bernstein uses the analogy of demolishing a heritage building. By seeking an injunction, the case of illegal demolition does not have to be proven. There is no time. The conservationists just have to convince the judge it could be argued it is unlawful and if it goes ahead, it cannot be reversed. Filing for an injunction was designed to stop the demolition of the union workforce, not to prove a conspiracy. “We could have taken court action against the government and against Corrigan, but what would it have achieved?” MUA national secretary,Paddy Crumlin told the 800 people gathered at the 20th anniversary dinner in Melbourne in May. “It would have meant those people would never have worked again and there would have been no one on the docks and the place would have been bankrupted. “ Secretary of Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in 1998, Bill Kelty , framed the decision as political. “We were not acting on behalf of the Labor Party,” Kelty said. “It was not in our best political interest to settle. (But) we owed our commitment to waterside workers. So we represented them first and last. We would not abrogate our commitment to (MUA national secretary) John Coombs and the waterside workers.” Greg Combet, Kelty’s deputy at that time, was tasked with running the dispute with John Coombs: “Court cases can go on for years,” he said. “We were paying
The waterfront dispute could have been Australia’s Watergate. It could have brought down the government.
everyone $200 a week, money we raised from the trade union movement. You can’t do that indefinitely. They’ve got families and mortgages. And you can’t keep pickets going for ever either. “ Had the banks foreclosed on Corrigan they would have put him out of business,” Combet said in an interview with the MUA film unit. There were people lined up to buy the company. “The banks were sounding out potential buyers. And we’d be back to the drawing board again.” The union had heard one of the potential buyers was going to go back to the ex-SAS workforce. “We figured it was best to negotiate with Corrigan,” said Combet. “It was obvious the only way to fix this was to get to the table and negotiate.”
Main: A hooded strike breaker, Fremantle port. Photo: Tony McDonough Right: (Return Melb)
“We won our key aims to get the workforce back, a collective agreement, no individual contracts, no scabs” GREG COMBET
Combet let it out in in the financial media, Corrigan’s media, that this had to be resolved. “Corrigan got the message,” Combet recalls. “He was on the blower in a day or so. Once that happens you know there is going to be a resolution.” Corrigan was in Bernstein’s words ‘strait-jacketed’. “We gave them a law suit and we tied them up in knots with an injunction. They couldn’t move, they couldn’t sack the workers, they couldn’t replace the workers. “Had we gone on to trial, because they’d pulled the corporate restructure, there was a strong risk the companies would have simply tipped over,” he said. “If the companies tipped over the workers were unlikely to get their jobs back, you may not get www.mua.org.au
any damages years down the track.” In industrial terms it was a win for the unions and the government lost, Greg Combet stresses. “The workers got their jobs back, the waterfront is still unionised and a MUA stronghold,” he said. “We won our key aims to get the workforce back, a collective agreement, no individual contracts, no scabs, a union workforce, no compulsory redundancies. The membership could democratically accept or reject the new arrangement. “We went back to work, we negotiated an agreement like we had negotiated every other agreement over the last 140 years in our history,” said Crumlin. “We know what productivity is. We know productivity equals job security.”
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
SECRETS The Howard coalition government approved a plan to sack the union workforce on the Australian waterfront in April 1997, a year before the mass sackings. The strategy paper reveals that the government also intended targeting Australian seafarers.
n 1998 then prime minister, John Howard not only knew of the plot to provoke a dispute on the wharves and sack the entire unionised workforce – he approved it. This is according to documents tabled in Federal Parliament in June and July of that year. The ‘Waterfront Strategy’ March 1987 brief distributed to Howard, his ministers for transport and industrial relations and their advisors clearly states that the objectives were “the removal of the MUA/ ACTU control over the waterfront and therefore its use as a political/industrial weapon”. It also reveals that in talks with stevedoring companies P&O and Patrick, both companies indicated they were willing to work to “sack their workforce and recommence operations on company terms using alternative labour.” On 14 April a leaked memo showed minister for employment and workplace relations, Peter Reith’s departmental officers attended meetings with Patrick legal adviser Graeme Smith of Freehill, Hollingdale and Page to discuss ways to dismiss the entire workforce through corporate restructuring. A letter personally signed by Howard on 21 April, 1997, gives his support to the ‘interventionist strategy’ outlined in the Waterfront Strategy brief (also tabled). It calls on the key ministers Reith and minister for transport and regional development, John Sharp to ‘proceed expeditiously to establish a contingency planning group’. Copies of the PM’s letter dated 21, 1997 were also sent to the treasurer and the minister for finance. Under the Waterfront Strategy document, the interventionist approach
is defined as ‘active involvement by the Commonwealth in the stevedoring industry.’ The most likely scenario would have involved using an element of the government’s maritime reform agenda to bring about a national MUA stoppage.” The ultimate aim is also entirely clear cut. “The stevedores would use this opportunity to sack their existing workforce and restart their operations with a new (non-union) workforce.” Under the sub-heading ‘triggers’ the strategy is outlined in more detail:
“The use of a maritime issue would make it easier to sack stevedores for striking over the issues which were not directly relevant to their own employment. There are three maritime and shipping issues which could cause the strike: the sale or winding up of ANL, the abolition of cabotage and the award implication process including the abolition of the Seamen’s Engagement System.” The report then recognised the success of the union’s public relations and media strategy on ships of shame: Page three of the six-page document states that “Cabotage has been clearly manipulated
by the MUA using ‘Ships of Shame’ and the spectre of oil on the beaches.” It then suggests which possible triggers would be least likely to attract sympathy from the general public – the seafarers’ engagement system, the sale of ANL or a stevedoring issue such as the establishment of a non MUA stevedoring company in one or more ports….” The key to the strategy was to catch the MUA by surprise: “To this end it may be quite appropriate to keep the unions wondering whether the government would settle for an evolutionary approach”. Under the heading ‘Public Relations’ the strategy identifies the need to manipulate public opinion: “Our research suggests that the general public does not yet appreciate the need for major reform of the waterfront. It is important that this is turned around before a major dispute.” The strategy document ends with the recommendations that the PM approves the allocation of an initial budget of $2 million to set up and operate the team (to prepare for the implementation of the interventionists strategy) and that a procedure be established for the rapid approval of additional funds as required. Other documents and internal memos tabled in Parliament in June clearly state that Patrick supported “an externally induced disruption sufficient to enable it to terminate its entire workforce” as the least risky option. However, P&O, for legal and not moral reasons, argued that a ‘big bang’ was “not the way forward” The first documents were tabled in parliament by shadow industry minister Simon Crean while the MUA national council was meeting on June 4.
Councillors took the afternoon off to tune into the fracas on television, watching as the Howard Government reeled with revelations that Federal Cabinet had devised a secret master plan for the mass sacking in July 1997. The documents clearly contradict a statement by Peter Reith on 8 May 1998 that ”the fact of the matter is we were not aware of any decision taken by Mr Chris Corrigan to replace his workforce.” Opposition leaders branded the cabinet paper “a document of conspiracy” with Labor Transport spokesperson Lindsay Tanner saying the government had been caught “red handed”. Other documents which show that the government was involved in the Dubai debacle and that Patrick boss Chris Corrigan had bankrolled the whole exercise hit the deck in May as jubilant Patrick workers returned to work. In tan affidavit sworn by ex-SAS officer Mike Wells the director of industrial mercenary company Fynwest, says John Howard was linked with the plans to replace MUA members with former military officers as long ago as July 1997. According to the affidavit “on 30 July, 1997, Stephen Webster telephoned me and asked me to contact Chris Corrigan about a possible job. Webster said to me that he was doing a special job for John Howard.” The leaked documents and the conspiracy case would go to trial, helping get a settlement over the line whereby Chris Corrigan and Patrick Stevedores were ordered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to pay $7.5 million in damages for third parties affected by the dispute. A key document still to see the light of day is the secret 149-page, $160,000 report from Sydney law firm Minter Ellison, according to Sydney academic Chris Sheil. REPRINTED from MWJ April/June and July/ August 1998 editions.
The full text of the Howard Government “Waterfront Strategy” is archived on the MUA 1998 website kept at the National Library of Australia.
Above: Peter Reith, Chris Corrigan and scabs conspiring. Artwork: Bill Hay Left: Oily Surfer: Secret papers reveal union campaign alerting Australians of the dangers of foreign flag shipping led government to focus its attack on waterside workers instead. The MUA’s Oily Surfer campaign was instrumental in the government targetting the wharves. Opposite page: Cathy Wilcox cartoon first published in the SMH.
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/nph-wb/ 19990609130000/ http://mua.tcp.net.au/Pages/documents.html #Anchor-WATERFRONT-49575
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
PORKY PIES In the run up to the paramilitary operation to forcibly remove waterside workers from the Australian docks, Patrick and the Government ran a concerted campaign to malign the workers. Crane rate figures were fiddled, system failures blamed on the worker.
hey are still peddling the same lies,” said Construction Forestry Maritime and Mining Union International President, Paddy Crumlin. “The lies and vilification of those workers still goes on today.” In 1998 the government and Patrick ran off the same script of falsehoods about productivity on the nation’s wharves - literally. The MUA media unit obtained copies via journalists from both parties. They were identical. One of the best examples was Peter Reith (former industrial relations minister) and Chris Corrigan (former Patrick boss) fudging the figures by comparing Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in Rotterdam to box rates in Melbourne. It was like a climate change denialist claiming global warming was a hoax by comparing 98 degree Fahrenheit summer temperatures in the 1960s to 37 degree Celsius figures today - then declaring it was getting colder. Just this April Corrigan argued in the Australian Financial Review that his ‘reforms’ had brought great productivity to the Australian waterfront. Crane rates were up from 20 lifts an hour to 40, all due to his strong-arm tactics, he claimed. A quick look at the Bureau of Infrastructure and Regional Development port
statistics Waterline (PSW) for December 2017 revealed he was once again comparing apples and oranges.
OFF THE CHARTS
PSW figures show the crane rate has risen from just below 20 boxes per hour in 1998 to just under 30 boxes per hour in 2017. It was the TEU rate that nudged over 40 last year. The main productivity leap came in 2000, and not 1998. John Howard has also made similar claims on the ABC in recent weeks without being challenged.
Documentation left on the company computers when the MUA workforce returned to the job in May 1998 proved the union workforce the more productive. Scab labour was only clocking up a crane rate of 10 boxes an hour, half the rate of the unionised workforce, not double as claimed by Corrigan and Reith during the lockout.
HUB AND SPOKE
Australian ports are indeed uncompetitive with major international ports to this day, but this is mainly due to geography, poor management and a political impasse on coastal shipping. Australia does not have a hub and spoke system which world’s best practice and Australian ports remain, essentially, feeder ports to regional hubs such as Singapore. In 1998 a Drewry Shipping Consultants report revealed the following: “It is not how big a ship is, nor how hard working the labour, nor how many containers come off. It is the percentage of cargo that goes on and off the vessel that is the biggest factor influencing crane rates.” Analysis of Australian data showed that the average percentage of containers handled at Australian ports at that time was 40 per cent, which by world standards is low. The Drewry report set the international benchmark of 19.1 containers
“It is not how big a ship is, nor how hard working the labour, nor how many containers come off. It is the percentage of cargo that goes on and off the vessel that is the biggest factor influencing crane rates.” 40 www.mua.org.au
handled per hour for a 40 per cent container exchange. At the time, the five terminal average was only slightly under at 18.5 containers per hour. Not only was Corrigan comparing TEU rates with box or lift rates, he was comparing Australian feeder ports with a 100 per cent exchange rate at major hub ports such as Rotterdam and Singapore.
DE-UNIONISING THE COAST
In 1997 then Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) national secretary, John Coombs wrote an opinion piece for The Daily Commercial News arguing the case for a hub and spoke system in Australia ports to raise productivity - one or two big terminals connected www.mua.org.au
to other states and regions by coastal shipping. To this day the system remains unchanged - primarily because Australia lacks the coastal shipping needed to connect regional ports. Meanwhile Australian ports are increasingly challenged to cater for bigger ships entering the trade. The coalition government, shipping and port management argue for a greater freight task than the current 15 per cent for coastal shipping – just so long as Australian MUA crews are not employed on the coast. The government is undermining Australian shipping and port productivity for no other reason than to de-unionise the coast.
Above: Watercolour Reith’s Porky Pies by Melbourne artist Bill Hay from his Hugger Mugger: Docks 98 series Left: New Right, Old Wrongs Bill Hay’s depiction of the ‘yellow press’ peddling lies about wharfies
ACTU POLLING In 1998 union polling showed the Howard Government won the productivity propaganda war. The ACTU/MUA decided to switch tactics and disengaged from the productivity debate. Polling showed Australians were instead deeply disturbed about job security and rumours of mass sackings. n
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
GLOBAL PICKETS When the Howard/Reith Government of 1998 outlawed solidarity at home, the pickets moved offshore. The war on the waterfront could not have been won without international solidarity
he story of the Columbus Canada is the stuff of legends. A ship loaded by Patrick scabs in Australia sails to New Zealand where the Waterside Workers’ Union keep it at anchor. It sails to the United States where the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and 15,000 picketers chanting “We support the MUA - no scab cargo in LA” send it back out to sea. It sails back to New Zealand where once again the union stops it coming alongside. They send it back to Australia where the black cargo is offloaded and reloaded by victorious MUA wharfies. “If the Columbus Canada had ever come alongside in Auckland it would still be here now,” Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary, Joe Fleetwood reflects.
“Columbus tried to tell us they had ILWU permission to reload the vessel when it got back,” said Terry Ryan then NZWWU president. “We didn’t believe them. We told them they could come in, but they might not ever leave.” Only once it is reloaded by Melbourne MUA wharfies does the Columbus Canada return to the US. But the story of the CGM Gauguin is a yet untold legend. President of the All India Port and Dockworkers Federation, P. K. Raman recalls the day vividly despite “the yawning time gap.” During the prolonged Patrick Dispute, the International Transport Workers’ Federation Asia-Pacific regional office, New Delhi, had been constantly updating (the late) S. R. Kulkarni then President
of the Transport and Dock Workers’ Union, Mumbai, and All India Port and Dockworkers Federation. “Mumbai was the command centre for all dock unions,” writes Raman. “The flotilla workers who tow the ships in and out of the harbour were in our fold. In addition the transport workers handling cargo and intermodal containers into and out of Mumbai port were under my command. The fortified union strength in all the three sectors was lethal,” writes Raman. “President Kulkarni sounded the bugle for a war cry: ‘If the CGM Gauguin attempts to enter Bombay (now Mumbai) waters, she will be boycotted not only in Bombay but also in all 12 major ports on the Indian peninsular.’” The union created a platoon of activists from the three wings to activate boycott action.
Photo: Columbus Canada by Dean Sewell, Fairfax photos
OFFSHORE ACTION The prelude to the nationwide Australian lockout began in the tiny port of Cairns, which serviced the Freeport mine in Papua, Indonesia. Bernie Farrelly was port secretary.
I PORT BOTANY STOCKADE: Eureka flag flying and megaphone in hand Patrick wharfies Steve Johnson, Garry Bourke, Barry Goldthorpe and his then wife Corynne sail their tinnie under the bow of the Columbus Canada. Sydney photojournalist Dean Sewell captured the moment for Fairfax media. Full story overleaf
But the action was not needed. Assessing “the impending collateral damage” the shipping line diverted the CGM Gauguin and retreated. Indian transport workers then donated one day’s salary each in solidarity with the Australian dockers. “On this historic commemoration, I salute Paddy Crumlin, the leadership acumen and the resolve of the Australian dockers to stand up for their legitimate rights in solidarity,” writes Raman. Nine years later in 2007 Paddy Crumlin, by then chair of the ITF dockworkers, repaid the generosity and resolve of the Indian union. Company thugs were kidnapping and bashing Mumbai truck drivers trying to join the union. The ITF led the push to successfully force global network terminal Maersk to pressure the contractors behind the bashings to lay off. “I recall the efforts of Bro’ Paddy Crumlin to muster the support of dockers worldwide in my campaign against Maersk union busting and the abduction of Maersk drivers. He spearheaded the monumental success,” writes Raman. n www.mua.org.au
t was the Friday 11 September, 1997 when Northern Shipping and Stevedoring advised the Freeport contract was terminated. International Purveyors, a front company for mining giant Freeport McMoran would Round One to the Unions” be bypassing Maritime Bernie Farrelly proudly holds up Union labour. Only seven the front page of the SMH MUA members had permanent work in Cairns - 29 casuals. And Freeport provided almost all of it. “We were on inter-port transfer when Freeport terminated the NSS contract. (National Secretary) John Coombs called me and told me this was not an industrial dispute, it was political. “John was clear. We weren’t going to pull out Australia in a national dispute and risk fines,” said Bernie. “We would set up a picket, but not attempt to block entry.” The real picket would be at sea. In London International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Head Office tracked down the owner of the vessel. Trevor Charles, ITF Australia coordinator at the time, flew to Cairns. Talks dragged on for a couple of days. The Singapore Maritime Officer’ Union, which held an ITF agreement with the shipping company, and both the US seafaring and dockers unions that worked his other ships, had also been in contact. Not only did the owner agree to the vessels not coming in that afternoon, he also acted as a go between to sort out an agreement with Freeport. The mining giant reinstated NSS. Was Cairns an isolated skirmish or part of the bigger plot? According to evidence from Webb Dock union busting operation defector, Jamie Meek, yes. Strikebreakers involved in Dubai and working at Webb Dock were also involved in the Cairns dispute, he testified. “At the time no one knew who these two men were,” said Farrelly. “They were not from the local community. We saw them in the ute coming in and out of the wharf.” In early 1997 three managers from NSS in Cairns had resigned, Farelly recalls. “Two of them popped up working when the new union busting stevedore for Freeport Mine was set up,” said Farrelly. “The other one popped up in (industrial relations minister) Peter Reith’s office as an advisor.” His name is one of the four names on the leaked Waterfront Strategy cabinet document – Peter Wilson. (See Secrets and Lies p32) n
PORT BOTANY STOCKADE The three men on a boat who launched a month-long floating picket at Patrick’s, Port Botany during the 1998 Lockout
ureka flag flying and megaphone in hand Patrick wharfies Steve Johnson, Garry Bourke, Barry Goldthorpe and his then wife Corynne sail their tinnie under the bow of the Columbus Canada. Sydney photojournalist Dean Sewell captured the moment for Fairfax media. “The ship was tied up in Port Botany being loaded by scabs,” Barry recalls. “We were in the boat, hurling abuse at them. We came around the front of the vessel. It was a pretty full on moment.” The three men were among the 2000 Patrick wharfies Australia-wide, sacked and locked out the gate in April, 1998. “We did what we needed to do by trying to get in between the ships at the time,” says Steve. “The aim was to always make them take the ship back out. We did 20-30 trips out on the water and forced 10-12 ships back out to sea over the month. We’d hide the inflatable in the bushes.” The operations also focussed on disrupting Patrick labour operations. So effective was the landslide community assembly that the company brought non union labour in by boat. “We chased them up and down and used the motor as a fire hose by tilting the motor up 2/3s so it was still sitting in the water,” says Steve. A couple of big blokes came in that day. We drenched them all.” Barry remembers ringing the police once the boat was overloaded with 30 people and no safety gear on board. Steve is still at Patrick, Port Botany and now works as a deck foreman. Garry tragically took his life some years after the dispute ended. Barry remarried and moved up north. He now works for Hutchison where he is job delegate, health and safety rep and on the enterprise negotiating team. “I’ve been a wharfie 28 years,” says Barry. “Hutchison sacked us all by email and text in 2015. I never thought I’d go through that again - twice in my lifetime. But I’m still here fighting to keep our jobs and keep our jobs safe.” As for the Columbus Canada, the vessel made international headlines after US dock workers members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to unload its black cargo when it reached LA. The ship was forced to return to Australia to be reloaded by MUA members, by then back in the gates. (See p41)
Dean Sewell © FairfaxPhoto
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
VICTORY PARTIES Maritime workers toast the 20th anniversary of the union victory over Patrick nationwide In Sydney the national secretary rode a Harley Davidson into the M Club Maroubra where wharfies families and friends joined 1998 national secretary John Coombs and wife Gwen to commemorate the win. In Fremantle the big event was merged with the May Day march and celebrations. In Brisbane members and officials, past and present, came together and heard the stories as told by Bob Carnegie, Paddy Crumlin, Jeff Langdon of their recollections of the lock out. Queensland Council of Unions secretary, Ros McLennan addressed the crowd along with the Electrical Trades Union’s Peter Ong. In Townsville everyone joined together for an open microphone evening sharing yarns of how the lockout impacted in the far north. In Newcastle beers were raised at the Carrington Bowling Club.
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
For Melbourne artist, teacher and four times Archibald portrait prize finalist Bill Hay art is activism.
hen the dogs descended on the wharves in the dark of night on 7 April, 1998, Bill Hay got straight to work. “The images were just shocking,” he said. “Balaclavas, dogs, hooded people on the wharves. It was an absolute outrage. It was a workplace being invaded and it could have been any workplace. And the lies they were telling about wharfies - that was part of where my anger lay.”
Bill recalls being so upset by the invasion he felt he had no choice but to take up his paintbrush in defence of the workers. There was no shortage of imagery. Hugger Mugger: Docks 98 is a feverish collection of watercolours, lithographs and oils featuring wire fences, goons in balaclavas and attack dogs alongside the main players in the conspiracy. The exhibition was completed in a few short months. It opened at the Steps Gallery in Carlton, the week the federal election was announced in August 1998. “My energy was coming mainly through anger,” he said. “It seemed to take over my life. What started with a few pictures turned into an obsession.” One of the paintings – ‘What Conspiracy’ - depicting Patrick boss Chris Corrigan as a serpent alongside John Howard and a goon in a balaclava was leafleted around Melbourne as part of the election campaign. Crude, black clad, hooded figures dominate the paintings. The images are disturbing and menacing. The industrial landscape is like a bomb site, bleak, barren, littered with ripped wire fences, signature red cranes, riot shields, dark skies and murky waters. “The hooded characters in these images are the ‘Scabs’ who not only sit on the knee of the Industrial Relations Minister of the day, (Peter Reith), but who also stand behind John Howard and Chris Corrigan’s conspiratorial arrangement,” said Bill. One ‘Scab’ is also seen behind a typewriter, a reference to the Murdoch-owned dailies’ falsified reporting of events. “So much of the media was also in league with the government of the day,” said Bill. “The attack dogs speak for themselves.” ‘Dream’ shows a decapitated head, (which some seem to think bears a resemblance to Peter Reith), lying in a pool of its own blood. One watercolour is more poignant. Community Assembly is a portrayal of two sleepless men warming themselves
“My energy was coming mainly through anger. It seemed to take over my life. What started with a few pictures turned into an obsession.” around a fire on the picket. Bill was no stranger to the wharves. His father was a truck driver at Port Melbourne. “My absolute belief is the need to protect the rights of workers in the face of a government owned by big business,” he said. “It was an amazing victory for the union. The main thing is to just keep beating these bastards.” Bill Hay studied fine art at Melbourne’s RMIT University and the Victoria College of the Arts. He has had 16 solo exhibitions and been represented in over 60 group exhibitions. Now a lecturer in fine arts at the Gordon Institute of TAFE in Geelong, RMIT and the Victoria College of Arts, Bill is continuing his art of political activism. Hugger Mugger: Docks 98 showed in Sydney at the Ray Hughes Gallery in 1998 and again during the union’s 10th anniversary of the Patrick Dispute at the Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre in 2008. Bill’s art work hangs in the National Gallery of Victoria, the NSW Art Gallery and the foyer of the Victorian branch of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union(CFMMEU). He donated a set of lithographs for the unions 20th anniversary celebrations in Melbourne in April. Gordon’s lawyer Josh Liley bought a book of 100 raffle tickets and beat off any competition to take home the prize. All proceeds went to the Tas Bull Seafarers’ Foundation. n www.mua.org.au
PATRICK LOCKOUT 1998
Women have always played a strong and proud role in union history - the first women’s committee of the Waterside Workers’ Federation dates back to 1952. And it was the same in 1998 when the ‘Women of the Waterfront’ movement was formed.
omprising the wives, workmates, family, friends and fellow unionists who stood up for the 2000 workers locked out of the gates, they chained themselves to railway tracks and stood their ground in front of riot police, jammed talk back radio and leafletted shopping centres. The ‘Women of the Waterfront’ movement was inspired by the UK group of the same name formed in November 1995 in Liverpool. One of 50 wives of sacked Liverpool dockers, Collette Melia was among the first to write to the Maritime Union about “the obscene and horrendous manner in which your men were sacked”. The founder of the 1998 movement was Jan Bevan whose husband had been a shipwright for 42 years.
‘Women of the Waterfront’ announced itself with a media release, headed “In Defence of our Families” which read as follows: “In response to unjustified and continuing attacks on 2000 waterside workers around Australia locked out by Patrick Stevedores, wives, girlfriends, partners, mothers and daughters, women from trade unions and community organisations, met and established a women’s group. We aim to put forward the views of families, to refuel the scandalous lies against the MUA, its members and families. We know the true picture, the shift work, the overtime, the dangerous and dirty conditions, the disruption of family life. We know all this, we live it every day.” The movement took off in all major ports. Behind the scenes, ‘Women of the Waterfront’ ran ‘phone trees’
Mychelle Emmett. Photo: Stuart Milligan
a ring-around system to help swell the number of supporters rallying behind the workers on the picket lines to crowds reminiscent of the Vietnam Moratorium of the sixties and the peace rallies of the 80s. Melbourne teachers Lesley Clarke and Bronwyn Jones locked arms at the front line at East Swanson Dock at 5.00 am on 18 April facing off mounted police in riot gear wielding capsicum spray. When a train tried to enter East Swanson Dock on the morning of 19 April, two grandmothers Edith Morgan, 79, and Molly Hatfield, 76, stood squarely on the tracks with their arms raised until the driver got out and went home sick. Hazel Hawke, former wife of Australia’s longest serving Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke, fronted a TV ad showing graphic images of dogs and hooded security guards and called on all Australians to denounce the federal government. ACTU president, Jennie George led public rallies down the streets: “When you attack one of our family you attack us all,” she said. When the workers returned on no pay in order to keep the companies solvent, ‘Women of the Waterfront’ kept raising money to help. In Newcastle they organised for five MUA men to strip down to their g-strings at a benefit event inspired by the film ‘The Full Monty’. It was a sell-out. n www.mua.org.au
ychelle Emmett was the MUA ‘poster girl of the Patrick Dispute. A banner of the apprentice ‘tradie’ was made and raised high to counter claims in the media that ‘farmers’ daughters at the Webb Dock union strikers training camp were the first and only women on the waterfront. Mychelle was one a dozens of women employed on the wharves. She was also one of the 2000 of Patrick employees locked out in April 1998. The apprentice electrician was driving into work on the morning of 8 April when she heard she’d lost her job on the car radio. “I thought it was a joke. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. She arrived at work to find the gates padlocked, pickets, dogs and guards. Mychelle was only weeks from completing her four year apprenticeship as an electrician at Melbourne East Swanson Dock. The lockout put all this in jeopardy. For the next month Mychelle would spend every day on the picket - sometimes up to 26 hours straight. She would return to work initially on no pay while meetings and negotiations dragged on another three months. When the workers did go back in the gate, maintenance trades work was outsourced to a national contractor agreed to with the union. Patrick took a three-year contract with the company. Along with the other 170 MUA ‘tradies’ Michelle took a redundancy and was given preference of employment with the new contractor on an MUA agreement. “I ended staying there another six years,” she said. “But I wasn’t part of the last company that took over at Patrick.” In 2002 she left the industry “I’m still very much involved in the trade. I’m doing a lot of talks to girls in schools to get them more involved, teaching electrical, engaging new apprentices. I have a mentoring position for other female ‘tradies’ as well.” Mychelle now works at Melbourne’s Holmesglen/AGA/ Box Hill Institute as an electrical assessor/trainer/teacher and mentor. She now has two children. “As a mum I couldn’t really do the shift work, but I stay in contact with workmates via facebook. The union was a huge part of my life. I’m a big fan of the movement and the workers’ united. It’s still very much in my heart what they did for us. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. I’m so passionate about what everyone did – how they rallied behind us.” n
NEW ACTU PRESIDENT MICHELE O’NEIL New Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Michele O’Neil has spent 28 years fighting to change the rules for textile, clothing and footwear workers. Now she’s taking that fight to a bigger stage. First the CFMMEU, now the ACTU
ichele O’Neil fought – and won – in workplaces where insecure work, wage theft, outsourcing, sham contracting and labour hire were rife. Most of the workers O’Neil represented were women, often migrant women working in low-paid jobs, and the textile industry has been at the forefront of globalisation – a laboratory for capital to test new ways to outsource jobs and take power from working people. “In my industry we changed the rules to win supply chain transparency – obligations for those brands at the top for the conditions of the workers at the bottom and rights for unions to enter sweatshops.” Elected at the July ACTU national congress, O’Neil follows on from Ged Kearney as ACTU president. Kearney won the federal seat of Batman – since re-named Cooper – at a by-election in March. Alongside ACTU secretary Sally McManus, O’Neil will spearhead our movement’s efforts to win fair pay, more secure jobs and better lives for working people. Born in Melbourne, O’Neil is the youngest daughter in a family of five daughters – all, she proudly says, feminists. Her mother left school at 13 to work in a tannery in Melbourne and worked as a waitress, and in various other casual jobs while raising five daughters.
O’Neil’s father was in the army as a young man, then was a lifelong public servant and, briefly, an AFL administrator. O’Neil remembers her mother working as a waitress at the Parliament House dining room in Canberra. “I remember very clearly her coming home and telling me that you can tell what sort of person a politician was by how well they treated the wait staff. That stayed with me.” O’Neil’s passion for social justice began early. Her sister took her to the Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra when she was 10. She went to rallies and marches as a teenager to free Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa. She joined her union on the first day of her first after-school job as a waitress in Canberra at 14. It was the union we know today as ‘United Voice’. O’Neil’s experiences at that job made a lasting impression on her. She was repeatedly sexually harassed by her supervisor and says she learned a lot about the power of the collective. When she told the older women working alongside her what had happened, the union delegate and other members stood up with her and made sure the harassment stopped. In her 20s, O’Neil worked with homeless young people in the community sector and
joined the Australian Services Union. Back in Melbourne she became the head of the National Youth Coalition for Housing. “I understood what it was like to be a low-paid worker and to work in short term, casual and insecure jobs,” she says. O’Neil had jobs sewing labels on jumpers and running a bank of knitting machines and worked with both the Clothing and Allied Trades Union and the Amalgamated Textile and Footwear Workers Union. She went on to work for 28 years at the TCFUA as an organiser, a campaigner, a negotiator, and eventually, was elected as a state and national secretary. In 2018 she led her union into an amalgamation with the CFMEU and MUA and became a CFMEU vice president. She fought for secure jobs, the protection of workers entitlements, and stood up for workers facing factory closures. She has been active in global campaigns to hold fashion brands to account for workers safety and conditions and has represented her union in International Union Federations. “I have spent my life fighting for a better country and a better world. Along the way I’ve learnt about power, about change. and about solidarity. “I know that when working people come together and act as one, no force in the world can stop us.” n
ACTU CONGRESS CALLS FOR FUEL SECURITY AND AN END OF ENTERPRISE BARGAINING Over 800 delegates representing workers from every industry and sector in Australia attended the ACTU Congress at Brisbane Convention Centre on 17 – 18 July 2018.
orkplace, rights and campaigns to improve wages, conditions and the standard of living for Australian workers and their families were among the top items on the congress agenda. Chief among the policies adopted was for the restoration of sector wide bargaining, using workers’ capital to push for union agreements and fuel security including the return of Australian crewed and flagged vessels. The CFMMEU’s Michele O’Neil is among those elected at the congress to ACTU leadership for the next three years. Working with ACTU secretary Sally McManus, the left-wing leader is calling for the wholesale rewrite of workplace laws - including sector-wide bargaining, industrial action rights, job security, and a “living” wage set at 60 per cent of median earnings O’Neil says industry bargaining is critical to combat wage inequality.
“Being able to have sector or supply chain bargaining where you have a chance to have everyone at the table, where you can really influence the outcome, is critical to doing something about wage stagnation we’re seeing in this country.” Congress noted, fewer than 50 per cent of working Australians are in full-time employment, wages growth has been at historically low levels while total gross operating profits soared in 2017 to levels that were 21 per cent higher than the previous year. It also called for reinstating the right to strike and guaranteed access to union representation, proper protections for union activity and improved unfair dismissal rules. Congress also noted that Australia’s secondary boycott provisions do not conform with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention of the ILO (Convention No. 87).
FUEL SECURITY A key policy arising from Congress was fuel security. Congress noted domestic oil production was dwindling while dependency on oil product imports and the [global] oil supply chain were growing steadily “National security policy should be automatically linked with Australian shipping,” Congress declared. “Unlike Australian seafarers, international seafarers working Australian coastal voyages, are not required to undergo background identity and security checks. Further, international-flagged fuel tankers operating on Australian coastal routes have no obligation to assist in the event of a fuel emergency. This is deeply concerning given explicit threats made by terrorist network Al- Qaeda against oil tankers supplying Australia, with the network describing our near- complete dependence on imported fuel as the “Achilles heel of western economies”. n
INAUGURAL ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CONFERENCE PLEDGES FULL SUPPORT FOR ‘ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART’
he newly-formed Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) has held its inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander conference in Far North Queensland where delegates pledged their full support for the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’. More than 60 rank and file Indigenous members from a diverse range of industries — including building sites, mines, the waterfront, seafaring, manufacturing and forestry — came together in Cairns. The inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Conference resolved the union would campaign politically and within the community in support of the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, in particular for the creation of a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice and a Makarrata Commission to implement the process of truth telling and treaty. Conference coordinator and MUA Northern Territory Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor, who has in recent times been a full time advocate to convince Australians to support the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, said the newly merged union was determined to build on its strong history of supporting First Nations people. “This conference was about bringing together our indigenous brothers and sisters, hearing first-hand their experiences at work and in their communities, and taking that knowledge to build a national campaign that can lead to genuine reconciliation,” Mr Mayor said. “By bringing together rank and file union members who know the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their workplaces, industries, and communities, we were able to develop a strong set of policies and clear campaign outcomes to ensure our union supports the fight of Indigenous Australians, in particular for a constitutionally-enshrined voice for First Nations. “The ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ is not only a compelling and powerful expression of the desires of First Nations people in this country, but just as importantly it outlines achievable outcomes, including a constitutionally-enshrined voice to Parliament and the creation of a Makarrata Commission to carry out the process of truth telling and treaty.” The conference also resulted in the formation of First Nations Peoples Committees, which will: • drive campaigning efforts and the development and implementation of Indigenous policy across the union; • promote and enforce strong workplace rights, while addressing exploitation of Indigenous workers; • support employment, training and culturally-appropriate mentoring; • e ngage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workers to build effective networks and support; • work towards empowering First Nations people to affect decisions about their own lives; • raise awareness with non-Indigenous members of the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples, through an understanding of culture, history and respect; and address racism and discrimination. n
Thomas Mayor, MUA
Teela Reid, lawyer, Legal Aid NSW
CHANGE THE RULES HITS THE STREETS
Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAlear (below) addresses a Sydney rally after wharfies shut down Port Botany and take to the streets to “Change the Rules” and demand the right to strike over unsafe jobs (see p12)
he union movement has hit the streets with a series of hugely successful rallies across Australia in support of the ‘Change the Rules’ campaign. On the 9 May 2018 in Melbourne 100,0000 people rallied to the cause and to campaign in support of changing the rules so workers can get a fair go and to put wage rises back on the national political agenda. MUA’s very own Mich-Elle Myers - National Divisional Womens Representative and National ALP Presidential candidate - spoke at the rally about how workers in our industry are facing aggressive employers and told how on the MV Portland our members were ripped out of their bunks and off their ship in the middle of the night by security guards, dumped on the wharf and left with no jobs. “These workers were replaced by exploited foreign labour paid as little as two dollars an hour. ‘It’s time to fight back,” she said. Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary, Luke Hilakari, talked about the Federal Budget released on Tuesday saying the proposed tax cuts was like throwing “crumbs” to workers. “The $10 tax [a week] relief for the poor and working people is just not good enough. They can keep that $10. “What we actually want is a large pay rise. We don’t want a tax cut,” he said. The ‘Change the Rules’ campaign will run up to the next federal election to secure a better deal for working people. Members are strongly encouraged to go to https://changetherules.org.au and register your support. Be part of the fight back and let’s give workers a fair go in this country again. n www.mua.org.au
MUA NATIONAL WOMEN’S REPRESENTATIVE
MICH-ELLE MYERS ELECTED ALP JUNIOR VICE PRESIDENT
ur very own MUA National Women’s Representative, Mich-Elle Myers has been elected Junior Vice President of the Federal ALP. Mich-Elle, campaigned under an ‘Elect a wharfie’ slogan which received strong support from union members and supporters across the ALP. Mich-Elle said she was deeply honoured to be elected. “I look forward to making sure that the voices of the ALP’s rank and file members are heard at National Executive and around the country,” she said. “My thanks go out to everyone who voted for me and all the incredible ALP and union members I had the good fortune to meet during the campaign. “This campaign is over but now the job begins to make sure your concerns are listened to. “I’m excited that ALP members outside the parliament now have one more seat at the table of the party founded by working people. “Congratulations to Wayne Swan on becoming ALP president and Mark Butler to the vice-presidency. “I look forward to working with Wayne and Mark to continue to deliver for working people and stand up against the Turnbull Government and its attacks our rights,” she said. Congratulating Mich-Elle on her win, MUA national secretary, Paddy Crumlin said she would do the MUA proud and represent a strong voice for workers on the National Executive. “Well done comrade!” Mich-Elle will serve as Vice President for the next four years. n
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MUA PLAYS KEY ROLE IN SUPER SATURDAY BYELECTION WINS
With MUA backing the ALP in the key port seat of Braddon, the Government has failed to pick up any seats in the latest round of by-elections
he ALP was successful in four of the five federal by-elections held on 28 July, dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ by the media. The other seat was help by an independent and all of these results prevented the Turnbull Government from increasing its slender majority in the House of Representatives. The various election battles took place against a hostile media and resurgent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull but all of the results showed a swing away from the Government. Four of the MPs were forced to resign from parliament because the renunciation of their British citizenship had not been finalised by the close of nominations for the 2016 Federal election. The MUA was a major contributor to the ALP’s Justine Keay’s campaign in the north-west Tasmanian electorate of Braddon which covers the Tasmanian ports of Burnie and Devonport, a seat that is always difficult to win. Keay used the MUA Tasmanian Branch as her campaign headquarters and she made special mention of the MUA in her acceptance speech. Special mentions were also made by Keay in Parliament for Paddy Crumlin, Ian Bray, Jason Campbell, Alisha Bull, Mich-Elle Myers and Darrin Barnett, who worked as part of the campaign team from midMay. The MUA also helped the ALP’s Susan Lamb in the Queensland seat of Longman and also the ALP’s Josh Wilson in Fremantle where the WA Branch is located. Crumlin said the wins were a tribute to the leadership of ALP leader Bill Shorten, who has long been a friend of the MUA. “The Super Saturday results show what we can do when the labour movement and ALP work together,” Crumlin said. “It is now clear that the Turnbull Government’s focus on tax cuts for big business at the expense of hospitals, schools and workers’ incomes was political poison and everyone is now looking forward to the next federal election which is due before May next year.” n
AUSTRALIA HAS A NEW PRIME MINISTER BUT LITTLE TO CELEBRATE
ational Secretary Paddy Crumlin reports that chaos and dysfunction have again taken over the Coalition Government in Canberra, with Australia now having its third LNP Prime Minister since they took office in 2013. A campaign by the Murdoch Press and the hard right of the Coalition deposed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with Treasurer Scott Morrison beating favourite Peter Dutton for the top job. Morrison, a divisive figure who had also been in charge of Immigration and Border Protection, is expected to enter a racebased election campaign relying on the politics of fear and division with a federal
poll due before May 19. Crumlin reports that voters have screamed their anger about the Liberals’ self-indulgent bloodletting in the first Newspoll after the coup. Labor’s two-party lead over the Coalition has jumped to 56-44%, a massive change from the 51-49% margin only a fortnight earlier. While Bill Shorten could never get his nose in front of Malcolm Turnbull as preferred prime minister, the opposition leader now holds a 39-33% lead over Morrison. Before the change of leader, Turnbull had a 12-point advantage as better PM. This is the first time since February
2015 that Shorten has led on this measure. The Coalition’s primary vote has plunged four points to 33% and Labor’s primary vote increased from 35% to 41%. Former NAB executive and Assistant Treasure Kelly O’Dwyer, a vocal supporter of retail superfunds over industry superfunds during the current royal commission despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, will be the new Minister for Industrial Relations. All up, the MUA must remain vigilant on coastal shipping and other important legislation despite the increasing likelihood that Labor will win the next federal election.. n
FACEBOOK & MAILBOX MUA
1998 WAR ON THE WATERFRONT VICTORY
This is a photo of my dad (front left) taken 20 years ago. It was his first shift back after one of the nastiest industrial campaigns in our country’s history.
After 32 years service on the Fremantle waterfront he along with his fellow union members were sacked without notice. Dad and his mates were treated like dogs by Patrick Stevedores and the Howard government simply because they were union members. But they stayed strong and with the support of the community and the mighty trade union movement they finally won their jobs back. This photo shows the joy they all felt going back that day. This is the face of VICTORY! MUA HERE TO STAY!! Michelle Sheehy Fremantle
This is unionism standing united - a great story. I hope the same happens at Esso UGL disputes and Longford. Shane O’Neill
In to Melbourne to celebrate the WIN over, Howard, Reith, Corrigan and the National Farmers Federation, as well as the SCABS that tried to break the spirit of the members of the MUA.
Have had time to read the posting put out by Paddy Crumlin, and it is a true reflection of what those BASTARDS tried to do to this Union. Congratulations Paddy on putting the truth forward for all to see. MUA HERE TO STAY FOR EVER. Glenton Wood
le marshall sitting by the I remember it well. I was the only fema walking around with or m war 40-gallon oil drums keeping us of the men. We were ort supp in it sign my list asking people to d out the Tactical Response running the gauntlet when we foun all over Australia at the same Group had raided peaceful protests eably removed from their forc e time. The men and women wer s of Patrick’s in WA. Some special area outside the locked gate ons and tortured with water men were taken away in paddy wag cannons. meeting place from the silos, I remember the police spying on our teurs sent in to disrupt the the constant harrasement and the sabo to carry metal cutters nearly peaceful protest. I remember having uit. It was a scary time. I as big as myself under my yellow wets o to Howard Satler a few radi also remember going on talk-back king their car horns in hon for ged char g times. People were bein d the wharfies and their support. So many celebrities supporte stood in the middle with this families. It was a adrenaline rush. I – orange hair and red brown officer. I’ll never forget his evil face shing me into the crowd piercing eyes. I asked him to stop squa n surgery. Big mistake. He as I’d just had a breast reconstructio grabbed the one I’d had coldly looked down at my breast and nd as hard as he could. arou plastic surgery on and twisted it n all the details of abuse dow took and Carmen Lawrence came they dished out to us. Janet Haskayne
inds me of when my aunty Good story Janet. The TRG part rem nd and searched in a rough (a cop’s wife) was knocked to the grou ng either. My uncle quit the manner. She didn’t do anything wro was victimised because we police service after that incident. She ies here, it’s easy to see how stor the are Aboriginal. But reading all ionships with Aboriginal and union members developed close relat e all treated the same - less Torres Strait Islanders because we wer than equal Tracey Heimberger
w nd ss
SHIPPING SOS PRODUCER WANTED! The SOS – Save Our Shipping - website is the culmination of over a year’s research and hard work. Within this website is the material that will make up a documentary film. It is by no means the final version. We can add any stories or chapters to the website pages or the history timeline as needed. But this is the foundation from which we build the best documentary ever. Our next step is a big one. We need to attract some serious funding. To do this I need a recognised producer onboard, as this is one of the criteria required to get Screen Australia and Screen NT grants. This website is our product, we now need to sell it to get this initiative off the ground. Our story needs to be told, and this is how we tell it. Go to the website at www.seafarer.site Rowan Hayward MUA member
Members speak out after management locks the union out the gate following a near fatality at Port Botany:
NEAR DEATH HUTCHISON I call it ‘Corporate Bullying’. Too many places are using this tactic (to hold union officials outside the gates) as a tool to hiding their ‘on site’ problems. I hope the lady recovers fully and shares with all rank and file the true conditions within the workplace. Compensation is all well and good, but another means of keeping a person quiet. Sad but true. Andrew Lincoln
The very fact that (union officials) weren’t allowed through the gate, tells you they have something to hide...by law a safety rep is allowed to investigate and represent the worker or their representative. Stevie White
Still diverting ships to other ports, what more would expect from management of Hutchinson’s Port Botany. They have NO IDEA how to run a stevedoring company, especially here in Australia’s biggest port. Must have all just come out of university, and been given NO HELP, in stevedoring.
Pity once again the workers out there, are being treated with such contempt. Glenton Wood
MISSING LINK Dear Editor, I was taken aback by the article on pages 8 & 9 of the Spring issue of MWJ re the history of the MUA. I would have thought the addition of 700 waterfront/container depot clerks who opted to resign ‘en masse’ from the Federated Clerk’s Union (NSW Branch), after a massive struggle (from 1981/82) to join the WWF on the 3rd June 1982, would have had some mention! This happened at the Balmain League’s Club with the sanction of the WWF Executive members Norm Docker (Assist General Secretary), Leo Lenane and Eric Parker and under the direction of the Gen Sect (Tas Bull from memory). There is a huge story behind this outcome. As I wrote, we never got a mention but the “Panno’s” did!! Kind Regards to all, Alan Curry OAM (Sydney Talley Clerk from 1965 to 1978 and elected Clerk’s VO from 1978 to early retirement in November 1991) Alan Curry Former Clerks VIgilence officer Clerk’s Section Waterside Workers’ Federation
Vale George Flask: ‘Super Delegate’
George with his wife Heather and family
George Flask, 56, was known by his mates and the union as a ‘powerhouse in his workforce” and ‘Super Delegate’. George started at Webb Dock and joined the union in 1986. In the lead up to the 1998 lockout he was working for Patrick in maintenance at Webb Dock. During the time outside the gates George and his family, his wife Heather, son and two daughters were on the Patrick peaceful assembly most days and most nights. His two daughters remember vividly going there and supporting their father during the lockout. George and his wife had seats booked to attend the Patrick 20th anniversary dinner. He died on Tuesday, 10 April, just two days before the commemorations. After everyone went back in the gates in 1998 George moved to East Swanson Dock where he was the heart and soul of the maintenance workers. George was the one who held all the MUA members together. He was the one everyone in the workforce went to when they needed something done on the job. They trusted him and he was very good at his job. He never put outrageous claims forward and he never put up anything for himself. He was always caring and considerate. If he knew anyone in the workplace was not travelling too well, he would go and see them in his own time. If two workmates were not getting on,
he would try and resolve things for them. He was a really caring person. He continually fought for workers’ rights. He was the delegate who kept it all together in the maintenance end at Patricks. George rang me on the Friday before he died to say he would come and see me on his day off, on the Monday, to finalise the last two clauses in the enterprise agreement. We sent it off that day and at 10.26 that evening, I received an email from George and the company saying it was all agreed. The next day, early in the morning George passed away suddenly from a heart attack at his home while brewing his morning coffee. Several hundred attended his funeral at Overnewton Castle in Keilor, Victoria, where he and his wife were married. The Victorian Branch are making a permanent memorial in his honour down on the docks. The reason why the boys have got the conditions down there today is due to George Flask. A minute’s silence was held for George at the Patrick anniversary dinner. George is survived by his wife Heather and three children – Daniel, Megan and Madeline.
Bob Patchett Victoria Branch Assistant Secretary
Vale Raymond ‘Chicko’ Miers Raymond ‘Chicko’ Miers peacefully passed away on the morning of 3 January, aged 74, with his wonderful family by his side. Ray leaves behind his beautiful wife, four kids and gang of grandchildren. ‘Chicko’ as his mates called him started out in the great Waterside Workers Federation, Brisbane Branch. In his 29 years as a wharfie, Ray, a member of the infamous and well known Gang #50, battled through many trade union disputes, not only for Brisbane, but for many unionists around the world. After the ‘Chicken Man’s’ retirement, he remained a friend of the MUA and stayed in contact with many of the past members. Joined WWF 1964 Retired 1993 Union no: 3130 Gang # 50 Rest in Peace Comrade The Miers Family
Joseph O’Byrne: Waterside worker Joe was a life member of the Waterside Workers’ Federation having worked as a waterside worker from 1970 to 1983. There may be some who remember him from the waterfront in Sydney in the 1970s and 1980s. He died peacefully in his sleep on May 25, two days after his 92nd birthday. His funeral was held at St Mary of the Angels, Guyra, NSW. Regards, Sean O’Byrne
Lance (Leo) Forde: Seafarer MUA member Sean McGahan, seafarer from Farstad Shipping, called to inform the branch of the passing of his wife’s grandfather Lance Forde. Lance, known to his mates as Leo, joined the Waterside Workers’ Federation in April, 1970. He resigned in April, 1991.
Leo worked at STL as a foreman. He was granted life membership in October 1991. He died in May, aged 85 years. Sean attended the next monthly meeting in honour of Leo. Annette Brackenridge Branch Administrator Maritime Union of Australia Victorian Branch A Division of Construction Forestry Maritime Mining & Energy Union
Kevin Durnian: Staunch Delegate Kevin was a determined activist and staunch delegate on many ships. He marshalled the Utah picket line in Brisbane from 1977 which at the time held the Guinness Book of Records for the longest running manned picket. It was in place for over four years. Every ship in port had members attending, and there were regular delegations from all over as well as large numbers of unemployed members. It was one of the many examples of Kevin’s ability to organise and was one of the reasons that when the Union was deliberating on the need for a second official for Queensland it was Kevin who was nominated for the newly created Assistant Secretary position. He held this position with great pride and determination from New Year’s Day 1982 until ill health took its toll on him and he determined to resign in October, 1988. Kevin, of course, was an activist for peace and social progress. In August 1986 he was honoured as one of 20 recipients to receive the Australian Peace Award established to mark the International Year of Peace. This award was for his role promoting peace within the trade union movement. Kevin was further endorsed by the union as part of a delegation to attend an International Peace Conference in Western Europe in 1986. His international work was testament to the values he held so dearly. Always a political activist he espoused any opportunity to address the imbalance in the world between www.mua.org.au
Kevin Durnian with Combined Mining Unions’ Spokesman Jack Kosch and seafarer Spike Sulivan during the Utah Campaign in Brisbane in 1978
the ‘haves and the have nots’. He was a keen advocate on economic equality issues. Kevin never let up and as 1985 came along he was heavily involved in the SEQEB dispute on behalf of the Union as well as the many other responsibilities as assistant secretary to Jim Steele. They were a very formidable team with a massive area of coast line to look after. There is little doubt that the workload was extremely heavy, Anyone who lived and worked as a trade unionist during the Bjelke Peterson years well understood the political and industrial pressure on workers and the union officials who represented them. Kevin was a proud man who loved his Union and enjoyed the great respect of members who he always put first. Vale Kevin Durnian -Internationalist, advocate for world
peace, political activist and trade unionist. Mick Carr Qld Branch Secretary (retired)
Laurie Warrington: One of the first Laurie Warrington, Integrated Rating, died in June 2018 due to a stroke. He was aged 74. He was living in Cronulla at the time where he was heavily involved with the local RSL. Laurie went to sea out of Singapore as a seafarer in the offshore oil industry for Western Geophysical. After 10 years, he then shipped out of Sydney in 1978. In 1988 he was one of the first seafarers to complete the IR course in Launceston. His sons have spread his ashes under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. n Seamus O’Reilly MUA
Inaugural Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Conference • 12 – 15 June 2018
RESOLVED Delegates to the inaugural national conference of the Construction Forestry Maritime, Mining and Energy Union in June passed 38 resolutions, foremost among them condemnation of lockouts, endorsement of the right to strike, the right of representation in the workplace, cabotage, the need to change the government, change the rules, and grow the movement. Women’s rights, Aboriginal-Australian rights, international solidarity and embracing socialism were also high on the list. LIST OF RESOLUTIONS Who we are and what we believe in ✔ ENDORSED A process to comprehensively consider policy positions of previous decision making bodies ✔ ENDORSED Acknowledging our proud past ✔ ENDORSED Recognising trade uniona veterans ✔ ENDORSED Right to strike ✔ ENDORSED Change the Government, change the rules, grow the movement ✔ ENDORSED Our political approach ✔ ENDORSED Endorse Direction of the ACTU ✔ ENDORSED Right of representation ✔ ENDORSED Sustainable development ✔ ENDORSED International solidarity ✔ ENDORSED Health and safety ✔ ENDORSED Union membership ✔ ENDORSED Growth and campaigning ✔ ENDORSED Women in our Union ✔ ENDORSED Family friendly EBA clauses ✔ ENDORSED Review of rules in relation to women’s participation ✔ ENDORSED Consideration of a name change ✔ ENDORSED 20th Anniversary of the 1998 waterfront dispute ✔ ENDORSED Cabotage in the shipping industry ✔ ENDORSED
✔ ENDORSED First Nations’ conference resolutions ✔ ENDORSED Uluru statement ✔ UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSED Safety regulators ✔ ENDORSED Defending our delegates and HSRs ✔ ENDORSED Support for workers’ assistance programs ✔ ENDORSED Opposition to raising the pension age to 70 years ✔ ENDORSED Celebrating and promoting our victories and union legacy ✔ ENDORSED Workers’ capital ✔ ENDORSED Youth ✔ ENDORSED Gas preservation and shipping ✔ ENDORSED Trade union training ✔ ENDORSED Constitutional coverage ✔ ENDORSED Ethical procurement ✔ ENDORSED Banking royal commission ✔ ENDORSED Condemnation of violence and support for two state solution ✔ ENDORSED Acknowledgement of Corbyn and Sanders ✔ ENDORSED Condemnation of lock out tactic ✔ ENDORSED Staff thankyou ✔ ENDORSED
1. WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE BELIEVE IN Conference endorses the following overarching principles: We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, recognise their continuing custodianship and pay our respects to their elders past and present. Our founding Unions share a progressive and militant history of empowering and involving workers locally, nationally and internationally around their industrial, social, economic, cultural and political needs based on justice, equity, mutual respect and access. We recognise that a socialist future can provide a more just world that we aspire to. Consistent with this the Union recognises socialism as our political objective. We commit to re-energising our commitment to these objectives. At our heart we are democratic Unions controlled by our members. We will work to ensure that these principles are reflected in our Union rules. We assert the importance of our responsibility and commitment to promote and defend social, economic and political justice along with genuine democracy and accountability based on the values of access, equity and democracy. We acknowledge our commitment and adherence to human and civil rights for workers regardless of sex, age, sexuality and ethnicity, nationally and internationally. We recognise that our founding Unions have a long history of commitment to and achievement of these values that have ensured the promotion of workers’ and trade union rights. We further reassert that as a new independent and progressive Union we will continue to build on that experience and historical direction. Our new Union will continue this focus and direction at the workplace, community, national and international level, reviewed and updated by transparent governance based on the involvement and overall direction of all members, including in the following areas:
• The promotion of members’ and broader trade union and workers’ rights. • Protections through joint industrial, political and community objectives based on support through effective organising and activity; Integrated recruitment and organising of members and the community to meet these objectives nationally. Our new Union will continue to identify those rights and protections and defend our members’ industrial, political, economic, social and cultural rights and those of workers generally against any attack and diminishment of those fundamental rights and just entitlement of and access to those rights, including through continuing to work within a broader like-minded and committed network of trade unions, organisations and persons equally committed to genuine united and inclusive action and campaigning.
2. A PROCESS TO COMPREHENSIVELY CONSIDER POLICY POSITIONS OF PREVIOUS DECISION MAKING BODIES
Conference acknowledges the common values held by the divisions of our Union and recognises how these common values were a key driver for the amalgamation. The divisions of our Unions have a proud record of developing both wider and industry specific social, political and industrial policy positions. Our common values have been reflected by previous decision making bodies of the now amalgamated Union in their respective policy positions and resolutions. This conference calls on the National Executive to establish a process for the detailed evaluation, updating, and consolidation of the specific policy positions endorsed by previous decision making bodies of our respective divisions for adoption by our Union.
3. ACKNOWLEDGING OUR PROUD PAST
Conference acknowledges the extraordinary 150+ year continual history of the historical Unions that make up the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union. We pay respect to and recognise the struggles of previous workers and our Union veterans that have fought, resisted www.mua.org.au
and advocated for their comrades winning better wages and conditions, improved safety a fairer world and socialism. Conference pledges to live up to this historical legacy in moving the Union’s direction forward and further supports a project of detailing our great collective history.
4. RECOGNISING TRADE UNION VETERANS
Conference acknowledges the veterans of our Union who have led and participated in the struggles which have won the wages and conditions that members enjoy today. Many of our veterans, although being retired from the workplace, have not retired from the struggle. The Union will continue to tap into the valuable experience of our veteran comrades that was forged from the struggles of the past. Veteran union members have a recognised ongoing role within the Union and are a valuable source of historical information on disputes and struggles that have been fought within our industries and movement. Union veterans are also an outstanding source of educational information for trade union training courses for new members, delegates and officials. The Union will strive to connect and support the ongoing work of veterans in each Division of the Union. The Union will stand alongside our veteran comrades in the struggles for retiree’s rights, for improved standards and conditions for the aged, for improved health care and for increases to pensions.
5. RIGHT TO STRIKE
Conference recognises that the current Protected Action provisions of the Fair Work Act do not enshrine the right to strike but actually remove these rights. Conference acknowledges the Right to Strike as a fundamental human right. The Union will fight to win the unfettered right to strike through ongoing campaigning and as part of the Change the Rules campaign and in an ongoing manner until such rights are achieved. This includes campaigning to remove the reactionary antiworker secondary boycott provisions 45D & 45E from the Competition and Consumer Act and any other laws which results in fines or damages as
a consequence of workers defending their rights. Such laws ban solidarity action locally and in support of our international comrades and causes for social good. Conference recognises ILO convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention. Freedom of Association has been maligned through the neoliberal agenda and has been turned into the right to not join a union. Freedom of Association is about protecting worker’s rights to organise and be in a union. These are fundamental human rights and must be fought for relentlessly. These tools will provide a balancing restraint to the industrial relations system and ensure workers can prevent and stop excessive exploitation.
5. CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT, CHANGE THE RULES, GROW THE MOVEMENT
The Turnbull Government and big business are out to destroy trade unionism in Australia and know that to do this they have to destroy our Union first. This explains the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), the Registered Organisation Commission (ROC), the stacked Fair Work Commission (FWC), the inept Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and unwarranted attacks on our officials and members. Conference commits that our Union will remove the conservative Turnbull Government and hold accountable any incoming Labor government. Whole sectors of the economy are unorganised; union density is at record lows especially in the private sector. The capacity of unions to organise these sectors and these workers is hampered by restrictions on our right to organise and the right of workers to take industrial action. Conference commits that our Union will fight to Change the Rules and see new and favourable rights for Australian working people. The trade union movement both here and overseas has been weakened by decades of neoliberalism, trickledown economics and financial austerity policies which has included attacks on our community owned assets, our education system, our health system, social
Inaugural Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Conference • 12 – 15 June 2018
security, the elderly and the vulnerable, our jobs, our families and our communities. We have a responsibility to our members and the wider trade union movement to act with a sense of urgency, commitment and passion to provide the leadership required to achieve the growth of our movement. Conference commits that our Union will play a leading role in Growing the Movement. Finally, and in order to Grow the Movement and ensure the achievement of the required change, Conference calls on National Executive to review our Union, to look at our structures and processes (e.g. be able to sign up members on a smart phone), and to see if we are fit for purpose in order to advance our goals and strategic interests. Furthermore, Conference recognises that the outcome may be structural changes where agreed, the growth in our organising capacity, the setting of targets, consolidation of resources and the reduction of unnecessary duplication with the ultimate aim of furthering the interests of our members and our movement.
7. OUR POLITICAL APPROACH
Australian Federal, State and Territory Governments have in recent years been characterised by their consideration of the decline of union membership as either their goal or not their problem. Conference resolves that our Union will campaign to ensure Labor Governments will use all leverage points available to them to foster and grow trade unionism. Conference acknowledges that we have been let down by Labor too often in the past and we will continue to remind them of this fact at every opportunity. However, Conference recognises that our choice is simple, its Conservative or Labor and if we are not happy with them, which we are not, we need to be inside the tent to take back the party for working people. Therefore, to strengthen our position within the Labor party we will develop a clear structure with a targeted vision for the future. Increasing membership plays a critical role in this process (both Union and ALP) Conference calls on all divisions to promote ALP membership within their divisions to strengthen our influence at all levels. We should develop a training package for potential political candidates within our union family. Furthermore, we will organise members to join progressive organisations in order for us to able to assert real influence in the policy and legislative agenda to secure our members interests politically as well as industrially. The union operates on a united front basis including social democratic and left and progressive forces and recognises the need to be part of and lead broad social movements and mass movements that can bring pressure on governments for social and political change. Conference calls on political organisers in our Union to network regularly and share information and strategy.
8. ENDORSE DIRECTION OF THE ACTU Conference congratulates the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Sally McManus for her leadership in building the ACTU into a campaigning organisation which strategically and passionately fights for the goals and objectives of affiliates such as our Union. The ACTU under Sally’s leadership recognises the need to change the government, to change the rules, to fight for security of work, equal pay, a living wage, paid domestic violence leave, super being paid on parental leave, to build workers’ power and to grow trade union membership, to name just some. Conference supports Sally and the ACTU in these struggles.
9. RIGHT OF REPRESENTATION
Conference calls for laws that afford workers the right to access their union officials and for unions to be able to organise, address employer breaches and enforce employee rights on the job. We reject the notion that “Right of Entry” is a privilege afforded to union officials. The law should recognise the fundamental right of workers to be able to organise and mobilise at the workplace with the support of their union. The Change the Rules campaign must unambiguously encompass this, and the current regime must be dismantled because it places so many barriers to the exercise of this right, including the preposterous fit and proper person, permit and notice requirements. Union officials should be able to enter workplaces for the purposes of undertaking their duties as workplace representatives whenever and wherever they see fit. The current restrictive, onerous and unduly prescriptive regime for Right of Entry for union officials has fuelled wage theft, poor health and safety, the denial of workers, delegates and officials of their basic rights and industrial conflict. Conference calls on a future Labor Government to ensure that all officials who have lost Right of Entry permits are able to exercise their rights to enter workplaces under the new regime.
10. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Conference supports sustainable development. For development to be sustainable it needs to meet the test of the triple bottom line: Social sustainability, ecological sustainability and economic sustainability. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Economic sustainable development requires companies to pay their fair share of tax and rents for the resources and infrastructure they utilise, have union agreements, pay living wages, facilitate good conditions for workers and manage their affairs to sustain economic activity in the long term. A campaign for sustainable development means fighting and supporting union jobs by promoting the need for just and ethical
procurement. It means lobbying for a just transition for communities when they are adversely impacted by structural adjustment so that workers do not bear a disproportionate burden of adaptation and mitigation when adjusting to problems caused by capital such as climate change. It means fighting for the rights to healthy and safer workplaces so that every worker comes home at the end of their shift free from injury and industrial disease. It means uniting and fighting with workers in their struggles for decent jobs and a dignified future. The Divisions which make up our Union have a long history and strong record of campaigning for sustainable development and we will continue campaign for these outcomes for our members and society.
11. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
Conference expresses our ongoing solidarity and gratitude to our international guests present from many countries and industries around the world. Internationalism is the lifeblood of our Union, recognising a worker is a worker anywhere in the world and that the struggles of all workers are inextricably linked. Conference pledges our ongoing support for continued joint campaigning and solidarity actions with our fraternal international unions and global union federations. In addition, Conference directs the NEX to facilitate a meeting of appropriate officials of the Union’s divisions, to be Chaired by the International President in order to stocktake the International work of the divisions including current engagement with Global Union Federations. The intent of the meeting is to map the work currently being done with the goal of better coordinating and leveraging this activity to advance the interests of our members and build stronger international solidarity.
12. HEALTH AND SAFETY
Conference recognises the paramount importance and responsibility of the Union towards all issues around workplace safety. We must always ensure that our members are not exposed to unsafe work conditions and are educated in all spheres of safety rights and laws. We must organise nonmembers into our Union and fight insecure work to improve Workplace Health and Safety across our Union’s industries and sectors. The level of fatalities and injuries remains unacceptably high across our industries and each workplace fatality and serious injury is a travesty that could have been avoided. Families and workmates affected should have been spared the trauma of unsafe workplaces and the fact that too many employers’ place productivity and profitability before safety is a disgrace. Workers, Health and Safety Representatives (HSR’s), organisers and officials should have an unfettered legal right to stop work to diminish the risk of injuries, fatalities and industrial disease, especially after a workplace incident or close miss and in order to show respect to fallen
or injured comrades. The achievement of these legal rights, especially for organisers and officials are vital in the context of increased insecurity of work in many sectors our Union has coverage for through casualisation and increased use of labour hire where workers legitimately worry about their future employment prospects if they speak out about safety. Conference notes the absurd approach of the Queensland government in excluding the mining industry from the recently legislative industrial manslaughter laws. Conference supports the Union’s continued fight to; improve and enforce safety laws, organise to advance health and safety in the workplace, facilitate the election in the workplace of HSRs, support, educate, resource, coordinate and assist HSRs and delegates and ensure negligent employers are jailed and corporations are severely penalised where death or serious injury is caused, or serious wilful negligence is proven. Conference calls on the Union to coordinate and link the safety struggles of all divisions with a view to a single national campaign with sector and industry specific elements and consider the merits of holding a cross divisional Health and Safety Conference. Conference calls on the Union to continue to fight for significant improvements to workers’ compensation schemes and other insurances. Conference remains committed to ensuring that workers in all our industries return home in one piece every night and day. Safety before Profit.
13. UNION MEMBERSHIP
Conference reiterates that Union membership extends beyond the workplace and we encourage delegates to speak with their family members and friends about the benefits of being in a Union and encourage them to join their Union. Conference recommends that the NEX develops a range of community membership programs.
14. GROWTH AND CAMPAIGNING Conference recognises that our continued survival and success can only be achieved with real membership growth and organising campaigns. The more members we have the more political and industrial muscle we have. Conference heard a number of inspiring case studies from the maritime, construction, manufacturing and mining divisions which www.mua.org.au
exemplified our good work in this space. Strategies discussed included: • Detailed site mapping and preparation; • Delegate training, education and development; • Linking workers and members to political campaigns; • Supply chain organising and leveraging relationships and pressure points with head contractors (for example labels and brands in the Textile Clothing and Footwear sector); • New ideas and tactics to approach traditionally unorganised sectors and company’s which are within our Union’s coverage; • Strategies in the face of increased casualization and labour hire; Cross divisional activities, organising and leverage opportunities; and • Making it easier for people to join the Union using new technology. • Increase youth, First Nations and women membership and participation. However, there is no place for complacency and we need to learn from the experience of these various campaigns to develop comprehensive strategies to continue the work of increasing our member numbers and building our Union to a capacity of over 200,000 members with a view to organising every worker our Union has coverage for across all divisions into the future. The priority required to growth, organising and campaigning is such that it will become a standing agenda item for NEX meetings. A feature of the case studies was the successful collaboration between divisions to secure improved EBA conditions around job security, increasing members in previously unorganised areas and sectors, securing entitlements and overall mobilising our membership. Conference commits to the resourcing of dedicated strategic organising campaigns to achieve and build the growth of our Union and holding an organising convention to develop our strategies further.
15. WOMEN IN OUR UNION
Conference acknowledges the work of the many women in our industries and sectors. We have seen a growing number of women entering into many of our male dominated sectors that make up a growing percentage of workers in those sectors that is not reflected in our Union in terms of membership. In total, women in our Union as
members hovers in single figures. The mergers with the TCFUA and the MUA have improved our profile, however, more needs to be done. A major theme of this Conference is the growth of our Union. We are committed to building the ranks of our female members in all our sectors to be part of the overall strategy to grow the union, our members and union power.
16. FAMILY FRIENDLY EBA CLAUSES Conference supports the Union, in conjunction with the National Women’s Committee, in developing a set of family friendly best practice template bargaining clauses which can be used by all divisions, and which should include but not be limited to: • Parental Leave • Domestic and Family Violence Leave • Flexible working arrangements • Recruitment for diversity • A clause that improves the employment opportunities for Women.
17. REVIEW OF RULES IN RELATION TO WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION
Conference recognises and supports the important role that the National Women’s Committee’s and National Women’s Conference play in increasing women’s participation in our industries and our Union. The National Women’s Conference is one of the largest cross divisional activities for our Union. To ensure the Union continues to meet the objective as outlined above Conference calls on each division to: • Review the rules of the amalgamated Union – paying specific attention to Rules 13A and 13B in regard to the National Women’s Committee and National Women’s Conference. • Further to that, each Division undertake the necessary actions to fulfil the requirements of the rules with regard to elected positions within the National Women’s Committee as per the general quadrennial elections applicable to each Division.
18. CONSIDERATION OF A NAME CHANGE
Conference notes the respectful manner in which the discussion about a potential name change was held and congratulates all those involved. Conference acknowledges the sensitivities in relation to our name, but also notes that
Inaugural Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Conference • 12 – 15 June 2018
divisions are still able to use their existing divisional names, logos and identities. Conference refers further discussions and consideration to future NEX meetings.
19. 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1998 WATERFRONT DISPUTE Conference acknowledge the 20th Anniversary of the 1998 Waterfront Dispute. This dispute was a watershed in industrial relation in Australia, along with the Mining Division’s battles with Rio Tinto. These epitomised the worst anti-worker and anti-union strategy of big business in collusion with the Howard Government. The Patrick’s dispute galvanised the workers on the wharves, the rest of the trade union movement and ultimately won the support of the wider Australian community. In particular set the foundation of the strong relationship between the CFMEU and MUA which 20 years on sees these two mighty Union’s amalgamate. Conference recognises the outstanding role of our fraternal international unions in repelling the conspiratorial attack of Patrick and Howard Governments. The role of the ILWU in particular and their staunch solidarity in refusing to unload scab cargo from the Columbus Canada was instrumental in defeating the attack on wharfies. The 1998 waterfront dispute has led to a recognition by our union and many in the Australian and international movement that internationalism and international solidarity are fundamental to winning disputes against employers and their anti-worker agendas. The bravery of the members of the MUA and their families who stood their ground, at considerable personal cost was inspiring and remains today a symbol of militant resistance which is to be celebrated and emulated. The fact that the MUA survived to remain a strong and powerful Union is a testament to that mighty Union and its members. MUA Here to Stay and CFMEU here for the blue.
20. CABOTAGE IN THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY
Cabotage is the principle of reserving a nation’s domestic maritime commerce for its own
citizens. Cabotage means that cargoes carried between Australian ports should be carried by Australian national seafarers on Australian registered and crewed vessels. Due to the undermining of cabotage provisions by conservative forces, Australian seafarers have been systematically replaced by the most exploited seafarers in the world, on poverty wages with little to no rights or say in their working lives. Conference calls on an incoming Labor Government to work with the Union to legislate within 100 days of them being elected a watertight shipping policy that reserves the right of Australian seafarers to work on their own coast and that provides opportunities to rebuild the Australian merchant fleet. The components of cabotage commonly include requirements to fly the national flag, limit ownership to majority control by national citizens and permanent residents, crewing limited to national citizens and permanent residents and where possible, domestic construction. Such elements provide firm underpinning not only for nation’s economy, national security and environmental policies but also complement a nation’s attempt to maintain a presence in international trade as well. Cabotage is not only a policy with a long tradition but is widely accepted by the international community. A cabotage policy is not only fundamental to the retention of a national maritime skills base but also a political declaration on the intent and the importance of retaining a maritime skills base. In summary, cabotage is a logical extension of a country’s transport, environmental, economic, national security and employment practices. The potential for achieving these benefits for nations with limited or no cabotage policies is enormous and should be pursued with vigour. It is a prerequisite for an integrated transport policy and for the inclusion of a maritime component which makes it sustainable.
21. VICT DISPUTE
That this conference endorses our national leadership to inform the Victorian Labor Government in the strongest possible terms to support our union in this dispute with VICT.
22. FIRST NATIONS CONFERENCE RESOLUTIONS Conference supports the following resolutions endorsed by delegates at the Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Conference held in Cairns in April 2018 and requests that the NEX further consider actions required to progress these important decisions: 1. Motion affirming our opposition to the LNP’s Community Development Program; 2. Motion supporting the resourcing of social compact work campaigning around industrial and political empowerment of First Nations People across the country; 3. Uluru Statement Campaign motion; 4. Motion committing to Divisional and National First Nations Member; 5. Committee Structures; 6. Motion endorsing the employment of a full time National First Nations Officer; and 7. Motion laying out priorities for the new union and the first order of business for the newly formed National First Nations Members Committee. Conference also notes it support for the First Nations Workers Alliance.
23. ULURU STATEMENT
The Union has a long history of fighting injustice against our First Nations brothers and sisters. True reconciliation is long overdue and cannot be delayed. The Turnbull Government is condemned for unilaterally rejecting the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Conference unanimously supports the call contained in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and we take up the challenge to walk with our First Nations brothers and sisters in achieving a Constitutional voice to parliament, treaty and truth telling.
24. SAFETY REGULATORS
Conference recognises that safety is a critical issue for all workers. Conference calls on the Union to pay constant campaigning attention to positively reforming the various safety regulators and their current lack of capacity to effectively deal with issues affecting workers on the job. AMSA, NOPSEMA, and all regulators are currently unable to deliver outcomes for workers on the job or effectively deal with employers and corporate power in resolving safety issues in the interest of workers. Conference calls for the establishment of a safety inspectorate to address these failures. These regulators often have crossjurisdictional coverage and all too often shift the burden of responsibility from one regulator to another effectively skirting their responsibilities. This lack of capacity, politicisation and funding of safety regulators breeds a lack of confidence in workers in dealing with safety issues on the job. Currently regulators seem unwilling or unable to effectively prosecute employers who breach safety laws and endanger workers.
The Union will work across all divisions with shared regulatory coverage to mount campaigns that effectively reform the regulatory regimes in the interest of working people’s safety Conference condemns those regulators who collude with employers to breach safety laws.
25. DEFENDING OUR DELEGATES AND HSRS
Conference recognises the critical role of union delegates and HSRs within our union. Conference affirms our absolute commitment to supporting our delegates and HSRs and defending their rights to be active leaders in the workplace assisting our members. The Union will provide training and delegate and HSR development programs and any assistance required to make the role of the delegate and HSR effective in organising in the interests of the workers. The Union will take all steps necessary to defend delegates and HSRs from discrimination, dismissal and blacklisting.
26. SUPPORT FOR WORKERS’ ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Conference recognises that across our industries workers suffer from mental health issues and other stresses, including work related fatigue, and that sadly suicide occurs at higher rates than average. Consistent with a longstanding tradition of mateship and camaraderie the Union has led the way in developing programs like MATES in Construction, MATES in Mining and Hunterlink to provide our members access to quality services in order to alleviate pressures that might leave them feeling hopeless or desperate. Conference congratulates the work done through these programs and commits to continue to support these schemes as yet another important service to our members and their families and wherever possible we should seek opportunities to have them and like programs accessible to all parts of the Union.
27. OPPOSITION TO RAISING THE PENSION AGE TO 70 YEARS
Conference condemns in the strongest terms the raising of the pension age to 70. www.mua.org.au
Our members largely undertake heavy manual labour, with their bodies taking the toll of that work and many struggle to continue working much beyond 50. To raise the retirement pension age and to deprive workers of access to their superannuation, insurances or the pension is to render older workers to poverty in their old age. Our members who have built the prosperity of the nation in all our industries deserve much better. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not disdain by this Government or any other politician who are clueless about how this issue that affect our members.
28. CELEBRATING AND PROMOTING OUR VICTORIES AND UNION LEGACY
Conference declares that trade unions are the fabric of our society’s democracy. Unions have been the basis of all gains for working people over the last 150+ years in Australia. Unions have won the conditions at work and in the community that have become social standards for all workers including annual leave, leave loadings, penalty rates, sick leave, Medicare, superannuation, democratic rights, workers’ entitlements and the 35 hour week. Unions have stood up for all Australians and have selflessly fought for and delivered conditions for all working people. Our rich history of international solidarity and community activity has been of benefit to not only Australian workers but has also been a significant factor in the fall of Apartheid, stopping pig iron exports to Japan in the 1930s, Indonesian independence, Green bans and a nuclear free pacific. The unfortunate reality is that our tremendous gains and victories are too often not credited to those union workers who sacrificed and fought the battles and achieved the gains for all. In addressing this lack of understanding of the spectacular history of working class struggle the union will ensure that extra attention is paid to celebrating our contemporary victories but also our historical legacy of gains for all Australian workers.
29. WORKER’S CAPITAL Conference recognises the importance of exerting leadership and outcomes benefiting our members, their families and their communities beyond just securing retirement income through our superannuation funds. Our funds were established through strike action and industrial negotiation including improvements to workplace productivity in the form of deferred invested wages for our members’ retirement years. We have a responsibility to continue to build on that legacy by opposing governments’, some employer groups and private fund corporations’, insurance companies’ and banks’ campaign to dilute or undermine these funds held in trust as all profit back to members. Further our Fund trustees need to ensure that all decisions that are made benefit members and maximise returns through the assurance of the highest standards of due diligence in all aspects of Environment, Social and Governance standards particularly in the area of worker’s rights and conditions and in accordance with the SIS act. We need to ensure that funds support the organisation and protection of workers from anti-union corporate behaviour in particular. Long term investments based on the observance and support of these protections are essential to the creation of sustainable returns and retirement incomes. We must network within the Australian and international Workers Capital community to ensure pervasive structures, communication and collaboration continues to be enhanced to ensure that our funds are protected and grown for the purposes they were created for. Further, Conference commits to resourcing our capacity in this area, including designated personnel to coordinate the Union’s activities in this essential area of workers’ entitlements and leverage and engage with our membership on this important issue. Note an appendix detailing the initiatives of the Committee for Workers Capital to be added
Conference resolves that the Union maintain its commitment to the youth membership of
34. ETHICAL PROCUREMENT
our organisation. That we not only continue with the structures already created in our own division, but further develop a joint approach of the respective youth movements across divisions nationally. In respective divisions and nationally we will develop and implement plans to increase participation and drive education and training opportunities. Conference supports that any review of the structures and processes of the Union will look at appropriate under 35 year olds in representative bodies.
31. GAS PRESERVATION AND SHIPPING
Conference endorses the Union campaign on fuel and energy security. The Abbott and Turnbull Governments have done nothing while several Australian refineries have closed and there are now zero Australian-crewed fuel tankers operating on our coast. Australia has been non-compliant with the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel stockholding obligation since March 2012 and we are at risk of vital industries shutting down should there be a significant supply shock. Engineers Australia told the fuel security Senate inquiry in 2015 that Australia’s total stockholding of oil and liquid fuel comprised two weeks of supply at sea, five to 12 days’ supply at refineries, 10 days of refined stock at terminals and three days at service stations. The NRMA’s figures indicated that Australia only retained enough fuel in stockholdings to continue delivery of chilled and frozen goods for seven days, dry goods for nine days, hospital pharmacy supplies for three days, retail pharmacy for seven days, and petrol stations for three days. The Senate has held inquiries into both fuel security and flag-of-convenience shipping, while the Energy White Paper and Defence White Paper also investigated our increasing reliance on foreign fuel. There are now no Australiancrewed tankers supplying fuel to our nation, down from 12 in the year 2000. At the same time, the number of refineries has halved to four. This means we now import more than 90 per cent of our fuel and that number is rising. Yet the Turnbull government has done nothing. Conference believes all Australians would expect our Government to have a better plan and this would involve more refining here and Australian-crewed ships to carry it around the coast. This isn’t only a matter of fuel security but also national security because unlike Australian seafarers, foreign crews have no background checks, yet they are carrying petroleum products, ammonium nitrate and LNG around the Australian coast. Conference notes that the cost of hiring Aussie seafarers to move fuel around our coast averages out to less than one cent per litre at the bowser. Conference also notes that with Australia set
to become the world’s biggest exporter of LNG by 2019, there are new gas import terminals planned for Westernport in Victoria and Port Kembla in NSW that may rely 100 per cent on imports. This would mean fewer local jobs in the long term. Conference demands an Australian jobs guarantee in construction, shipping, surface transport and operations at both of these LNG plants as there is no logical reason why Australia should not produce its own gas, transport it to areas of need and then use it for the benefit of local consumers and industries at an affordable price.
32. TRADE UNION TRAINING
Conference recognises the crucial role of trade union training for workers in developing a political, industrial and economic understanding of the system we live and work under. Trade union training is of vital importance in the development of our future Union leaders. Conference supports developing stronger more cohesive union training initiatives and courses across divisions. Joint divisional trade union training courses can allow us to learn from each other’s experience and struggles. Courses should seek to develop a broad working class political and ideological understanding of issues affecting workers and society as well as dealing with on the job organising and tactics in dealing with safety and industrial situations that arise on the job. Union training is about building our capacity to fight and win. The Union recognises the importance of ensuring every new member to our Union is given the opportunity to undertake trade union induction courses. Conference calls on an incoming Labor government to fund a trade union training body along the lines of the old TUTA organisation. The Union commits to ongoing resourcing of trade union training initiatives in each of our divisions for both officials and Union delegates.
33. CONSTITUTIONAL COVERAGE
Conference recommends that the NEX investigate our constitutional coverage with a view to identifying new opportunities.
The money spent on the purchasing of goods and services is a powerful tool to support and grow local, ethical, unionised jobs. Conference notes that best practice procurement requires an investigation far beyond what product or service is available at the cheapest price. Whether a product or service is locally sourced and union is an essential consideration in ethical procurement. Procurement from local, ethical, unionised companies can create long term, sustainable, decent jobs. These sorts of local jobs provide benefits to the community in the form of revenue, employment, economic activity and flow on jobs with good fair pay and conditions. Procurement from local companies engaged in wage theft or the exploitation of workers, or from companies overseas who do not comply with labour or environmental standards is unacceptable, regardless of how cheap the product or service may be quoted for. Conference calls on the Union to develop policies and campaign to win a requirement on all Australian governments, government entities and companies and their contractors engaged on government funded, assisted and/ or supported projects to purchase locally and ethically. Textiles, clothing and footwear (including PPE), paper and paper products and manufactured building products and materials will be an initial focus for our Union. The policies must require the procurement of local goods and services wherever possible and for procurement to always be from unionised companies and who have unionised companies in their supply chains. The company must be willing to undergo audits by trade unions, and have their contractors and suppliers commit to undergo audits by trade unions to ensure compliance with their obligations. For Textile, Clothing and Footwear this will include requirement that companies are accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia. Our Union and divisions will lead the way by being a model procurer by purchasing Australian local goods and services from unionised companies, requiring our contractors to do the same and encouraging and educating others in the movement, industry super funds, union affiliated firms and others in the private sector to engage in best practice, local, ethical and sustainable procurement. We will ensure that all our Union merchandise is made in Australia from unionised companies who are accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia.
35. BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION
Conference recognises the ALP’s support for the Royal Commission into the banking and financial industry. Further, we condemn the institutions that have manipulated and betrayed workers by their
greed and self-interest at workers’ expense. Conference calls on the Federal government and any incoming Labor government to hold those exposed to account. We also note with disdain the double standard whereby trade unions, delegates and officials are maligned and vilified for taking up the fight on behalf of members yet corporate criminals are largely left untouched.
36. CONDEMNATION OF VIOLENCE AND SUPPORT FOR TWO STATE SOLUTION
National Conference condemns Israel’s latest horrific assault on the people of Palestine, which resulted in many deaths and injuries as well as the destruction of hundreds of homes. The overwhelming majority of the fatalities and injured were civilians, and many of them children. We support the calls for an independent inquiry into these atrocities. We urge our membership to express their solidarity with the people of Palestine. Conference calls for genuine support for peace and a just and viable two state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict which recognises the 1967 borders based on UN Resolution 242. This should be based on recognition to each other’s right to exist and live in peace within secure borders and in accordance with UN resolutions and international law. To achieve this ultimate goal, Conference supports intermediate steps, such as: • An immediate freeze on all illegal settlement construction and land and resource expropriation activity in the illegally occupied Palestinian Territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank; • The dismantling of the Separation Wall throughout the West Bank where it is built on Palestinian land; • An end to the demolition of Palestinian homes on their own land; • An end to the illegal blockades that severely impacts on the health and lives of Palestinians; • An end to the movement and resource restrictions placed upon Palestinians in the www.mua.org.au
West Bank and East Jerusalem that greatly impacts on the ability for civil society to function and for the Palestinian economy to operate; • An end to the oppressive workplace practices that are imposed on Palestinian workers • A just outcome for Palestinian refugees to return. Conference condemns the Federal Government’s failure to support a Palestinian state in line with the majority of the international community at the UN General Assembly vote, a state which consists of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, with the remaining 78% of the land forming the State of Israel. The Palestinians have demanded the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian borders within the 1967 armistice line, and this must be the starting point of negotiations. Conference believes that the possibility of a just and viable two-state solution and with it any lasting peace is becoming more remote through the denial of basic human rights and that UN Resolutions and international law must apply for the long-term security of both the Palestinians and Israelis. Conference recognises and calls on the US government to cease its funding of Israeli military aggression and to adopt a position that pursues real and lasting peace. Conference also condemns the US in moving its embassy to Jerusalem in a clear provocation which has led to mass demonstrations and the wholesale killing of hundreds of civilians. The Union will develop training and educational initiatives that bring a clear exposition of the issues in this longstanding struggle making it accessible and understandable to workers and our members to facilitate greater activity and support for the Palestinian people. Conference condemns violence on all sides of the conflict and calls for an immediate end to all hostilities.
37. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF CORBYN AND SANDERS
Conference congratulates the efforts of Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom and Bernie Sanders in the United States of America for
highlighting the sentiments and agenda around the cause of progressive social democracy. These comrades are engaged at international levels in justified efforts to re-balance the injustices inherent in capitalism and the current, neo-liberal, right wing attacks upon workers and the working class.
38. CONDEMNATION OF LOCKOUT TACTIC
Conference has heard a number of reports spanning twenty years of our Union’s history where employers have resorted to locking out workers. Patrick Stevedores, JELD-WEN, Carter Holt Harvey and Glencore, who at Oaky North locked out their workers for 238 days are just some of the shameful corporations which have locked out workers. The legal right for an employer to lock out their workers instead of engaging in genuine dialogue and good faith bargaining does not befit a country like Australia or indeed any country. The ease with which companies can use this act of bastardry is a national disgrace. The performance of the regulators and industrial tribunals in response to lockouts in recent struggles has been pathetic. The abolition of the employer’s right to indefinitely lock out workers and/or unilaterally terminate agreements should form an integral part of the Change the Rules campaign. Conference commits to support locked out workers and their families.
39. STAFF THANKYOU
Conference congratulates all our Staff for their dedication and commitment in preparation for and during our inaugural Conference. This Conference has been a success, in part due to their efforts. Conference thanks Michael Flinn for all of his efforts in organising the conference prior to it and wishes him a speedy recovery. Conference also ask that our thanks be passed onto the Staff of this venue for their great service and assistance. n
PORT OF CALL
THE ANGEL OF SYDNEY’S WATERFRONT Whether it’s a seafarer not being fed, paid or being illtreated, Sister Mary Leahy is always there to champion those without a voice, writes Debbie Cramsie.
ydney Josephite nun Sister Mary Leahy, (OAM) is always the first person seafarers call on if unable to contact loved ones after a death in the family or just desperately lonely and homesick after spending months on end at sea. Known by wharfies, tugs crews, pilots, port workers and seafarers worldwide, the nun with the non-judgmental attitude and cheeky sense of humour has dedicated the past 20 years of her life to helping those who earn a living on the seas. And while long regarded as one of the last bastions of the hard-core union movement, everyone, from ‘rough and tumble’ wharfies right up to international shipping company CEO’s, sing the praises of the Irish-born, softly-spoken woman and the support she offers all who visit Sydney’s waterfront. Sister Mary spends most of her time visiting the international ships that arrive at Port Botany, quite often the only non-crew member seen for months. She provides general information about access to facilities ashore, communication with loved ones, wage and abuse issues, loneliness, isolation, illness and mental health issues, spiritual care, attending court hearings and the list goes on. Day and night she is known to appear with everything from clean clothes, practical advice, spiritual guidance or just a listening ear for somebody doing it tough. The nautical nun says despite all the sadness and desperation she sees daily,
being Chaplain to seafarers is a “privilege and a joy”. She said international days like the recent Sea Sunday helps highlight the dreadful plight faced by many seafarers and is a powerful way of lobbying for their rights within the industry. “It really is a tough life, most are at sea for 12 months at a time, in the confined space of a vessel, away from families and loved ones missing the most important events in their lives,” she said. “Due to the almighty dollar, seafarers might only spend six hours in port before they are off again for months on end so find it increasingly difficult to get permission to go ashore. Contacting families, even just walking on land is something we all take for granted but they go without for months. “Australian seamen have a strong union and pretty good working conditions. But for those from other countries there are usually no unions and few protections. The men are very vulnerable to exploitation. Many are so grateful just to have a job that they are reluctant to speak out for fear of losing it, despite suffering physical, emotional and in some instances sexual abuse. “Some suffer terrible conditions and once aboard have their passports seized and so are at the mercy of the captain. A job oversees can sound very enticing to somebody from a poor fishing village, and could pay $US1000 just to get the application form sadly to end up a slave. “Slavery and trafficking is common with
many having their documents confiscated, working illegally and ending up languishing in jail. “Some of the stories are very sad, which is what keeps me going, dong everything I can to help those who need it.” Sister Mary came to Australia from Ireland following her sister Geraldine, also a nun, in 1979 and initially trained to be a nurse. After her profession as a Sister of St Joseph, she worked at St Vincent’s Hospital until her appointment as Port Chaplain in 1992. Today, she is the regional coordinator Oceania for the Apostleship of the Sea, and was recently in Rome to attend an international congress organised by the Pontifical Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. Awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2012 and a Papal Honour in 2017, in recognition for her 20-year service with the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Stella Maris Apostleship of the Sea, Sister Mary is very content with her calling despite the often rough waters. “In 20 years I think I’ve seen it all, nothing surprises me anymore which is probably why I’m so trusted,” she said. “Being able to help these people every day is a privilege and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” To contact the Apostleship of the Sea – Stella Maris visit www.aos-australia.org.
Courtesy of The Catholic Weekly
PORT OF CALL
WORKING WAVES By MUA member Ryan Smith, Newcastle linesmen and event organiser The 23rd running of the MUA surfing contest was held at Soldiers’ Beach on the NSW Central Coast in March with contestants battling heavy swell, turbulent waters and challenging conditions.
NEWCASTLE YOUTH COMMITTEE RAISE OVER $4500 to support the Newcastle Night Angels
1st Christian Loads 2nd Paddy Crumlin
Nathan won the year before as well so was defending his title after being knocked out cold by a wave on the reef at Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia. He was revived in the water by fellow surfers from Brazil. They took his lifeless body onto a board and paddled him to a fishing boat, gave him CPR and got him ashore, according to STAB surf magazine. Lucky to be alive Nathan took time out for an extensive recovery period with his family back home before making his come back.
he Newcastle Youth Committee has been active in helping the homeless in Newcastle – raising over $4500 for homeless outreach organisation Night Angels to provide support to people who sleep rough in the Hunter. Youth Committee members Steven Murray, Joey Schneider and Cameron Burns have delivered backpacks, sleeping bags and opal cards to the up to 100 people who sleep on the streets. Newcastle Night Angels CEO, Samantha Banks said there had been a big rise in homelessness and thanked the MUA for its support. “The MUA - I couldn’t wish for a better bunch of guys. Wonderful people,” she said. Steve Murray said that the donation was timely given the start of winter. “The Youth Committee has put forward a donation of $4500. We thought it would be good to give out some backpacks and other gear to help out the homeless,” he said. Joey Schneider said there was over 100 homeless people bedding down in Newcastle in the middle of winter. “It’s just not on - it shouldn’t happen,” she said. Cameron Burns said homelessness is on the rise. “It is an issue in Newcastle and across Australia with attacks on social welfare. Youth homelessness is also on the rise,” he said. MUA Newcastle Branch secretary, Glen Williams, said the youth committee deserve credit for showing initiative, raising the money to help those who have fallen on hard times, getting out there and taking action. “They are a great example of the work the MUA does supporting our community,” he said. n
WOMEN OF THE WATERFRONT
WOMEN WELCOMED INTO THE UNION
Around 100 women are now joining the industry each year - thanks to a concerted union push
atrick wharfie Shandy-Lee Cooper of Maroubra Sydney is one of 140 women to have joined the Australian maritime industry – and the union – in the past year. The more than doubling of recruitment in recent years (from 45 in 2008) brings the female membership to 868 out of a total membership of 12694 or 6.84 per cent of membership. “Through negotiations with the employers, the union now ensures women are included in the selection of all new employees,” said National divisional women’s representative Mich-Elle Myers. “This doesn’t happen without resistance. MUA officials should be commended on their vigilance and persistence in ensuring that women are employed in each new intake.” The new recruits are working nationwide in every industry sector – at DP World, Patrick, Hutchison Ports, Skilled Maritime Services, Svitzer, Teekay and Toll Shipping, TT Line, Atlas Hydrocarbons, Qube, Sydney Ferries and port authorities. “I would like to welcome all of the new women members to the MUA family,” said Myers. “Now more than ever we need to stand up, speak out and fight for the rights of workers, especially
women workers. “If you want to get involved please come along to the monthly meeting in every branch on the last Tuesday of the month, get in touch with me or one of the women’s reps or join our Facebook group called MUA – Women.”
The MUA is bargaining to have paid domestic violence leave included in all enterprise agreements. “The government recently approved five days unpaid leave for all workers in the National Employment Standards (NES),” said Myers. “But this is not enough. We must continue the fight for paid leave so women can find new accommodation, see their lawyers and doctors.” The Labor Party has committed to 10 days paid leave.
“We are fortunate that there are not differing pay levels for women in our industry, but a gender pay gap still exists in the Australian workforce,” said Myers.
‘Women in Male Dominated Occupations and Industries’ meetings
Mich-Elle with Shandi Cooper new wharfie at Patrick Port Botany
are being held in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney in the coming months. MUA women wanting to go along should contact their women’s rep and branch official.
CHANGE THE RULES
The ACTU has launched the campaign to bring fairness back into workplace laws and gender equality. “But to change the laws we need to change the government,” said Myers. “Union members all over the country are taking to the streets to door knock, phone voters and many other actions.” To take part go to the website changetherules.org.au and sign up to volunteer. n
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIONS NSW. PRINTS KINDLY DONATED BY THE BLOCH FAMILY
Woodblock prints by the late artist Paula Bloch
Paula received an urgent evening call to join the picket line at Port Botany at 5am one morning. She rang her friends to join her on the front line. “I escaped Hitler’s Germany with my parents just before the war, and grew up with a strong commitment to people’s rights,” she said. “The waterfront lockout was such shock-fascist tactic.” www.mua.org.au
The Spring 2018 issue of the Maritime Workers Journal. Keep up to date with the latest from the MUA