North coast solidarity with the MUA

May 13, 1998

North coast solidarity with the MUA

By Nick Fredman

LISMORE — More than 80 people attended a public meeting in solidarity with the Maritime Union of Australia here on May 7. Organised by the Lismore Wharfies Support Group, the meeting was addressed by MUA members from Brisbane, and local trade unionists and activists.

Gary Parker, from the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, explained that the waterfront dispute was a "Thatcherite and Reaganite" program to bust the unions.

Community and Public Sector Union area organiser Brett Paradise told the meeting how the minister for social security, Jocelyn Newman, had directed Centrelink and Social Security workers to collect information on MUA members. The CPSU is resisting this, and the attempt by Employment National general manager and former Patrick general manager, Tom Story, to force its members onto individual contracts.

Helen Goldburn from the NSW Nurses' Association outlined the solidarity activities of her union, and local farmer Vince Ptolemy argued that not all farmers followed the National Farmers Federation. He said that working people and farmers should discuss common solutions to their problems.

Kathy O'Driscoll, co-women's officer at Southern Cross University Students Council and Resistance member, discussed the role of militant mass action and the importance of alliances between all those suffering under the Howard government. She argued for a political alternative to the ALP and called for the nationalisation of the stevedoring companies.

MUA member Mick Fulton agreed with the nationalisation demand. He outlined the physical and emotional costs of industry restructuring and refuted many myths regarding wharfies' workload and productivity.

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