Chants of "MUA, here to stay!" rang out outside the electoral office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on April 13, as around 200 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) rallied in protest against federal government attacks on the shipping industry, threats to reduce penalty rates and the Coalition's industrial relations agenda.
The rally was chaired by MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer. Speakers included Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey; veteran MUA activist Jim Donovan; assistant branch secretary Joe Deakin; Millers Point public housing defender Barney Gardner; and Greens candidate and former NSW firefighters union secretary Jim Casey.
The crowd, overflowing onto the street, heard about the government's attacks on Australian seafarers and shipping industry. Zach Kinzett, from the MV Portland, told of being forcibly removed from the ship by 30 security guards, something no worker should ever have to endure.
The protestors were also showing solidarity to other workers who have been marginalised by the Turnbull government's refusal to support local industries. “They aren't just doing this to seafarers. They are doing it to meat workers in Townsville and to steel workers in Whyalla and Port Kembla”, said acting southern NSW branch secretary Mick Cross.
This protest was a call to action. The MUA is committed to actively campaigning in communities and workplaces to boot Turnbull out of government at the upcoming election.
McAleer ended the rally by declaring that the MUA would continue to campaign against attacks on seafarers' and waterfront workers' jobs, and that the union would continue to hold rallies at the PM's office and elsewhere.
“They have been taking our jobs away. If they are going to steal our jobs, we are going to steal theirs,” said McAleer.