Hutchison workers 'back in the gate'

January 22, 2016

Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports terminals in Sydney and Brisbane are "back in the gate now," and "normal work is proceeding" Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch assistant secretary Joe Deakin told Green Left Weekly on January 20. Settlement of the long-running dispute which began on August 6 last year was finally achieved in December.

The dispute began when Hutchisons suddenly sacked 97 workers at the two ports via text and email. The campaign led to the establishment of community assemblies outside the gates of the two terminals at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane, lasting more than four months and gaining enormous support from other unions and the public.

Assistant national secretary Warren Smith commented in the Summer 2015 issue of the Maritime Workers' Journal: "In addition to messages of solidarity from around the globe, we've received monetary donations and piles of food, plus staples like firewood at both of the sites.

"It's very reassuring for the sacked 97, and it's heartening to me, that we're on the right side of history in this dispute, and those who think it's OK to dehumanise workers are on the wrong side."

Deakin added that now the dispute is over, "the union is hopeful that the company will get more ships in to alleviate any future problems of work availability.

“Those who elected to take voluntary redundancies have gone willingly. However, the workers who have gone back inside are determined to stay put, because as far as they are concerned, it's their workplace."

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