WA unionists: MUA support vital
By Roberto Jorquera and Iggy Kim
PERTH — The Western Australian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, in conjunction with the WA Trades and Labour Council and various other unions, protested outside the annual conference of the Pastoralist and Graziers Association here on February 25.
A central theme of the protest was the need for farmers and maritime workers to unite. Green Left spoke to a number of the protesters to get their opinion of the stakes in this dispute.
Gary Kemp, an MUA member for 30 years, said,"If we lose this fight against this fascist government, then other workers will also lose their jobs".
John Donan, an MUA member for six years, said, "We are in a do-or-die situation ... They want to increase their profits by cutting wages and getting rid of the union. If you don't have unions to set rates, then everyone's wage is going to go down ...
"This isn't just an attack on the MUA; it is an attack on the whole union movement."
"All unions must front up and support them, because if the MUA goes down, other unions will be next", said Tony Kailly, an organiser for the CFMEU.
Chris, an AMWU delegate, reckoned, "This defence campaign is a defence of all the unions ... The fight will escalate if the NFF try to get established at Webb Dock."
Mathew Hammond, industrial officer for the Australian Services Union, said, "We need information distributed about what is really happening on the wharves".
"There could be some greater calls to the community to understand what is happening here", said Peter Stokes, an organiser from the WA State Secondary Teachers Union. "It is quite obviously a political plan to break a progressive union ...
"We all have to unite, but I would say that it needs to be extended beyond the trade union movement into the community. So community rallies and news are important."
The Democratic Socialists in Perth and Fremantle are distributing among unionists a statement calling on the ACTU and TLCs to build an effective all-union campaign in defence of the MUA. For copies ring Roberto on (08) 9227 7367.