MUA solidarity petition launched

March 4, 1998


MUA solidarity petition launched

By Bruce Marlowe

Rank-and-file unionists and concerned community activists have launched a petition demanding that the ACTU and local trades and labour councils seriously boost their solidarity effort with the Maritime Union of Australia.

The petition text says, "The stakes in the dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia and the anti-union alliance of Patrick, the National Farmers Federation and the Howard government could not be higher. At risk is the democratic right of all workers to organise in unions to defend their standards of living and working conditions. It's time for the union movement to counterattack."

The petition reminds the ACTU of its stance of support to the MUA adopted at its November 1997 congress: "Bill Kelty, with the Cairns dispute still fresh in everyone's mind, promised that the whole trade union movement would get into the trenches to defend the MUA".

However, according to the petition, "The job of explaining the stakes has only just begun.

It states: "The ACTU has produced one leaflet and a few meetings have been held by other unions. Given the merciless media barrage against the wharfies and their union, this is totally inadequate. Indeed, despite the widespread support for the wharfies from other workers, we have to admit that there are many who have been swayed by the efforts of Channel Nine and all the rest."

The best counter to the inevitable media and government hysteria that an MUA industrial campaign will bring is "having broad masses of working people understand the MUA (and the union movement's) case, including the need, in certain conditions, to confront anti-union laws".

The petition further states, "The MUA can only win if the widespread pro-MUA sentiment is mobilised and organised. As a start the ACTU and state and regional TLC leaderships should build a National Day of Action in support of the MUA, if possible to coincide with the March 4 day of support to the MUA being carried out by the ACTU (Queensland), if not as soon after as possible."

This NDA should involve at least a four-hour stoppage of all unions.

The petition also calls for the immediate setting up of campaign committees open to all delegates of affiliated unions.

"Only in this way can sufficient numbers of workers (who are itching to help the MUA stop Howard's union-bashing) be organised — organised to go out into the shopping centres and the country towns to put the MUA's side of the story."

The text concludes: "Only if it changes gear immediately can the union movement thwart this attack. We must all do our bit to rally workers in this country behind defence of the maritime workers.

"Consider this: if they can't win, what happens to the rest of us?

"There isn't a moment to lose."

Copies of the petition are available for the nearest branch of the Democratic Socialist Party or by contacting the DSP on

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