The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has accused the federal government of unfairly targeting waterfront workers as part of a so-called crackdown on organised crime.
Home Affairs minister Jason Clare said on May 25 that federal police would be given new powers to put waterfront workers out of a job if they have a criminal record or are suspected of involvement in organised crime.
All waterfront workers will now need a special maritime security identification card to keep their jobs. Clare said: “This is tough. I'm not backing away from that and I think that this will be controversial”, AAP reported.
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “The overwhelming majority of the stevedoring workforce are law abiding and today's measures are targeting innocent people and their livelihoods …
“The MUA is committed to the elimination of any crime in the small part of the sector in which we have influence but we question whether [a] maritime security identification card is the right tool.”
He said of the 16 arrests made in connection with waterfront crime since July 2010, just one was a waterfront worker.