Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members employed by Qube marked their 40th day of industrial action on September 7 with a rally at the Port of Fremantle.
The 120 workers have been locked in a struggle to force Qube to implement health and safety provisions, which it has refused to do for more than 15 months.
WA MUA state secretary Will Tracey drew parallels between the 1998 dispute with Patrick Stevedores and the union’s struggle with Qube. “The people who ran Patricks have the same attitude and disregard for their workers that has seen Qube workers locked out for 40 days”, he said.
Tracey said Qube was the only company to refuse to agree with the MUA over its 42 claims addressing safety and fatigue issues in the Port of Fremantle.
Qube management has been widely condemned after managers were photographed working at the terminal on August 23 without wearing any personal protective equipment, breaching Western Australia’s Health Order. The MUA has asked the government to suspend Qube’s stevedoring licence.
The Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) branch secretary Andy Hacking reminded the rally of the MUA’s solidarity during the 2018 ALCOA strike. He said ALCOA workers had chipped in $10,000 to assist Qube workers.
Electrical Trades Union (ETU) branch organiser Adam Leech presented a $5000 cheque to the workers. Qube has made $17.5 million profit from “the sweat of its workforce and only paid 2.5% tax”, he said.
Qube received $30 million in JobKeeper funding last year, $17 million of which its CEO has been shamed into paying back.
Transport Workers Union WA secretary Tim Dawson expressed his solidarity and spoke about the TWU’s dispute at Toll Warehouses.
Financial contributions to Qube workers have also come from members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the AWU, the ETU and the TWU.
[A Facebook live video of the rally can be seen here.]