A resolution between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT) was agreed on December 15, following a 19-day community assembly at Webb Dock and more mass support planned. Union leaders have described it as an important win for workers.
The unions agreed to lift the community picket at Webb Dock after a worker there, who was previously sacked, was reinstated. The worker, who was recruiting members to the MUA, was sacked for not possessing the necessary maritime security clearance at the time.
“A workable solution has been reached in discussion between the union and the company management, which is a welcome relief at Christmas”, MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said.
“The worker in question has been reinstated with pay. The MUA expects that the ongoing community protest at Webb Dock will end some time today.
“This is a welcome circuit breaker and we will continue to work with the company to resolve the many outstanding issues ... The MUA would like to thank the Melbourne community and broader trade union movement for backing this worker in his time of need and standing up for decent pay, conditions and job security for all working men and women.”
Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC) Colin Vernon, who had vowed to mobilise Geelong workers at Webb Dock, told Green Left Weekly that this was a “fantastic result for the workers”.
“It just goes to show that when workers and unions stand together, they can beat anyone.
“The odds were stacked against the workers in this one but when they did pull together, we showed they could win.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re a multinational corporation, or whether they’re a corrupt government. It doesn’t matter who they are, we can beat them.”
The community assembly had been organised over close to three weeks. A major solidarity rally with the community assembly was held at Webb Dock on December 8 and a second major rally had been planned for December 19.
A dispute between the MUA and VICT over a non-union workplace agreement that undermines working conditions, negotiated between VICT Human Resources and Industrial Relations director Mick O’Leary and five workplace supervisors, remains ongoing.