Workers have told Green Left Weekly that Hutchison Ports is seemingly in the process of calling for voluntary redundancies at its Port Botany and Brisbane terminals. This is the latest development in a long-running dispute that erupted following the sudden sacking of 97 workers at Hutchison's two ports on August 6.
Since then, members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), along with other unions and supporters, have maintained community assemblies at the two ports.
Greg, a union delegate at Hutchison's Port Botany site, said: “We understand letters are being sent by the company to all workers asking for voluntary redundancies (VR). The union has gained a guarantee of 25 weeks' full pay, plus other entitlements, for any member who accepts VR.
“I'm not sure how many workers will want to take it up, however. Then, we will see what happens about the negotiation of a new enterprise bargaining agreement,” Greg said.
Nathan, a member of the MUA's youth committee and Sydney Ferries worker who regularly visits the community assembly, told GLW, “The Hutchison dispute is symbolic of union struggles today. We have seen unionists and the community come together to support the cause of justice for the workers against capitalism.
“I find that young people today often have limited knowledge of the history of the union movement. I urge all the youth members of our union to support the Hutchison workers, and come out and speak to the older members about the struggles of the past, such as the big Patricks' dispute of 1998.
“Everything we have as unionists today was won in battle by veterans of previous union struggles. Those rights and conditions need to be defended by younger generations today.
“I am proud to be a member of the MUA. This dispute reveals again why we need unions now more than ever,” Nathan said.
[For more information visit mua.org.au.]