Workers block provocation by Mobil
By Dave Mizon
MELBOURNE — Workers at Mobil's Yarraville terminal won a victory over management on October 15 after four days of strike action.
The strike followed a series of provocative actions by the terminal management calculated to break the spirit of a militant workforce so that restructuring plans could be implemented wholesale.
The incident that triggered the strike involved a newly employed worker. He was called in to work overtime on a job that normally requires two workers. The foreman accused him of malingering, at which point the worker informed the foreman that he would not work any more overtime and was going home.
On his way out, he was approached by a maintenance worker and asked to help fix a leaking flange on a line from a petroleum storage tank. When the worker signed out an hour later, he was accused by the foreman of falsifying time sheets and sacked.
After two days of talks between delegates and the company, a mass meeting decided that strike action was the most appropriate way to deal with management. It was decided to call on the support of the other Mobil terminals, and workers in SA, NSW and Queensland also struck. Tanker drivers, members of the TWU, observed the picket lines, and no Mobil product moved in Australia for four days.
This rapid and determined action forced the company into a humiliating back-down, with all the workers' demands being won. The dispute highlighted the effectiveness of networking between delegates, which has been actively encouraged by the NUW in the oil industry, and the strength that solidarity between unions gives striking workers.