A community assembly is holding firm outside the Hutchison terminal at Port Botany, with 24-hour attendance and regular gatherings of maritime workers from Hutchison and the other operators, Patricks and DP World. There is a similar assembly at the Port of Brisbane.
The assemblies were established after the provocative sacking of 97 waterfront workers at the two ports at midnight on August 6 and have been maintained as "solidarity camps" ever since. The sackings, imposed via text and email messages, shocked workers in the maritime industry and throughout the whole union movement.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) won an injunction in the Federal Court for a temporary reinstatement of the workers while talks continue between Hutchison and union representatives under the auspices of Fair Work Australia.
MUA Sydney branch assistant secretary Joe Deakin told Green Left Weekly on September 11: "We are quietly optimistic we will obtain a fair outcome in the end. The basis of any agreement must be full reinstatement of the workers and no discrimination regarding employment conditions.
"The union is seeking a fair and equitable outcome of this dispute. Hutchison management has gone back to the Hong Kong owners for any final decisions.
"On the international front, it is now the 20th anniversary of the great Liverpool dockers' lock-out. This anniversary in very significant, because the non-union labour brought onto the Liverpool docks during the dispute is no longer there.
"It is now a totally union waterfront again. The lesson for our workers here at Hutchison’s is that if you keep fighting, you can win in the end.
"We continue to receive messages of solidarity from maritime and other unions around the world, especially from other Hutchison ports.
"The morale of the Hutchison workers here is very good and they are continuing to receive strong support from workers at the other terminals.”
Sydney MUA branch co-assistant secretary Paul Garrett addressed the launch of the Unions NSW-sponsored We Are Union campaign in Newtown on September 8. His account of the Hutchison struggle was greeted with applause by the assembled unionists.
A hangi feast and concert featuring the band Urban Guerrillas was held at the assembly at Port Botany on September 12. Community support for the Hutchison assembly is welcome and the public are urged to visit the Port Botany and Port of Brisbane sites any time.