MUA rally in solidarity with Pakistani dockworkers

Karachi dock workers taking action against privatisation in 2016.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members rallied outside the Pakistani Consulate on March 26 to demand the dropping of all charges against the Karachi Dockworkers Union president and another unionist who were arrested following a dispute at Hutchison Ports' Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT).

The arrests occurred as Karachi dockworkers were protesting about safety conditions on the site after a worker was run over by a vehicle on March 17. The union leaders were released on bail after 10 days in detention.

The KICT Labour Union has joined with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in calling on Hutchison’s global management to immediately intervene and call a joint labour/management investigation into the events that led to the fatal accident.

MUA Sydney deputy branch secretary Paul Keating told the rally: “We stand in solidarity with the dockworkers of Karachi. Your fight is our fight.

“The Karachi Dockworkers’ Union is the newest waterside workers' union in the world, only some weeks old. We call for the dropping of all charges against the Karachi unionists, and urge the Pakistani Consulate in Sydney to pass on our demands.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin said on March 22: “This is yet another tragic accident that again raises serious questions about Hutchison's safety procedures, and how seriously the company takes its responsibility to ensure the health and safety of its employees in ports worldwide.

“The ITF is uncompromising in our commitment to safety, and Hutchison needs to know that the ITF will fight to make sure that every worker goes home safe, every day.”

The incident follows the death of five workers at Hutchison’s Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) between 2016 and 2018, and a serious incident at Hutchison’s Port Botany terminal in Sydney last year, which left a worker fighting for her life in an induced coma with broken limbs and severe head injury.

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