The midnight text message that sacked 100 workers — this is the face of Australian industrial relations today.
Workers at Hutchison Ports in Sydney and Brisbane received their marching orders by text and email overnight on August 7, informing them that their positions had been made redundant, there were no redeployment opportunities and their personal belongings would be couriered to them.
According to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Hutchinson’s plan is to fully automate the port. Getting rid of these workers is the first step in that process.
In response, community pickets were established at Port Botany in Sydney and Fisherman’s Island in Brisbane, in support of the locked-out workers.
Solidarity with the MUA is key. If Hutchison is allowed to get away with sacking workers at will in order to automate, this will have knock-on effects for all waterfront workers.
The bosses are on the offensive against penalty rates, the minimum wage and the right to organise. They have a willing accomplice in the Abbott government. But the power of organised workers and the community is much greater — as long as it is mobilised.
When Patrick Stevedores sacked 2000 waterside workers in April 1998, Green Left Weekly’s Sue Boland wrote: “The [Howard] government and Patrick gave the impression they were on a winner. But the strong community and union support for the maritime union has shown that many workers understand that the future of trade unionism is at stake in this dispute…Many people now understand what the MUA has been saying all along — that the dispute is not just about wharfies, but about the rights of all workers to job security, decent pay and conditions, to belong to a union and to take collective action against their employer to defend those rights.”
Green Left Weekly is proud to stand on the side of workers against the power of the bosses and corporate interests. For nearly 25-years, Green Left Weekly volunteers and supporters have reported from the picket line. Green Left Weekly sees its role as spreading the word about any dispute — big or small —understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all.
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