Union organiser sacked for protesting?

Issue 

By Melanie Sjoberg

ADELAIDE — Long-time union and environment activist Davey Thomason has suffered police harassment and may have been sacked from his position as an organiser with the SA branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for his participation in the protest against the construction of a power station at Pelican Point on the Le Fevre peninsular in the western suburbs of Adelaide. Thomason is a resident in the area.

Thomason told Green Left Weekly he was arrested twice in one week at the Pelican Point picket line. On May 11, while eating breakfast at the picket, he was arrested under a six-year-old warrant related to his participation in a CFMEU delegation to the Nurrungar anti-nuclear blockade in April 1993.

"At that time I was bashed by the police Star Force, taken to Woomera hospital and charged with trespassing on commonwealth land", he explained. "The Kukutha people had granted us access, and we had paid the rent." The CFMEU and the individuals involved had agreed not to pay the $25 fines or the court costs imposed.

This time, Thomason said, the local police treated him well. But Pelican Point, he said, "resembles a police state".

Following an accident at the picket, Thomason was hospitalised for four days. When he returned home he found a letter attached to his front door informing him he had been sacked, allegedly for attending a protest while on sick leave.

Thomason is challenging the unfair dismissal through the Industrial Relations Commission. "I am personally ashamed of the executive and my so-called comrades in the construction division of the CFMEU", he told Green Left. CFMEU branch secretary Martin O'Malley was not available for comment.

Thomason hopes his local community and other activists will understand his predicament and send messages of support for him to Martin O'Malley, CFMEU, 11 South Terrace, Adelaide 5000. Copies sent to Green Left Weekly at GPO Box 781, Adelaide 5001 will be forwarded to Thomason.