Court tries to sue union

Issue 

By Arun Pradhan PERTH — The national waterfront strike in support of the ACTU's industrial action against CRA has led to another confrontation between unions and the Liberal state government. The Maritime Union of Australia's (MUA) strike action on the morning of November 16 brought Fremantle port to a standstill. On the same day WA transport minister Eric Charlton vowed to make the union pay, and attempted to take legal action. Stephanie Mayman, Assistant Secretary of the WA Trades and Labour Council (TLC) described Charlton's actions as "extremely provocative". She told Green Left Weekly that "the minister has a history of mismanaging disputes". The Industrial Relations Commission dismissed the claim and therefore blocked common law action for damages, though Mayman warned that this decision was not guaranteed and depended on further actions by the union. The government's attempt to sue was supported by the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the WA Shipping Council. These organisations are now lobbying federal industrial relations minister Laurie Brereton to take legal action against the MUA. Mayman told Green Left that the TLC did not envisage heightened industrial action in WA around the issue, although unions would continue their fight against CRA's move to de-unionise workers here and against Court's second wave legislation.

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