Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)

Twelve months ago socialists from several different groups and backgrounds came together to see if they could get the first socialist elected to an Australian parliament in more 70 years.

In the very early hours of Sunday, July 29, the federal government carried out a highly secretive transport of spent nuclear fuel. Helicopters and hundreds of police accompanied trucks from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology’s reactor at Lucas Heights to Port Kembla in New South Wales. 

The Sydney University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) held a forum on campus on June 13 to discuss how to organise to rewin the right to strike.

Professor John Buchanan, from the University of Sydney Business School, told the forum: "The current Fair Work Act (FWA), introduced by the previous Labor government, is the second worst industrial relations legislation in Australian history, after John Howard's Work Choices.

'Class consciousness is knowing which side of the fence you’re on. Class analysis is figuring out who is there with you.' — Slogan from a 1970s poster, author unknown.

The newly formed "Industrial Left" faction of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in Victoria combined with the right at the party's state conference on May 28 to block discussion about imposing a 90 day time limit on offshore detention.

Unionists marching down the street carrying banners and flags.

About 700 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions gathered at Sydney Town Hall on May 29, and marched to the offices of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) where a lively rally was held calling for an end to laws limiting the right to strike.

The action was organised around demands for the right to organise, right to strike and right to live.

 

This is an abridged version of an interview with assistant secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Jeff Hoy, which was broadcast on Green Left Radio on 3CR.

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The wharfies are on strike at Webb Dock once again, 20 years after the infamous Patrick dispute. Can you tell us about the current strike and the factors that led to this industrial action?

Conflict has erupted on Melbourne’s waterfront after Qube Ports applied to terminate an enterprise agreement covering its Bulk & General operation. Members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) retaliated with a snap 48-hour strike over March 17–18 and declared bans on shifts greater than seven hours and on overtime.

If Qube’s application to terminate the Melbourne agreement is successful, it would be the first time an agreement has been terminated on the nation’s wharves.

Australian merchant seafarers demand work not dole

"Australian merchant seafarers demand and expect to have the right to work in their own country" read a letter from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) state secretary Bob Carnegie to the general manager of Rio Tinto.

The formation of a militant super-union has been given the go-ahead by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in a decision announced on March 6.

Founding national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) Michael O'Connor welcomed the formation of the new union, created by the amalgamation of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), and the Textile, Clothing, and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA).

Despite court action by the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT) against unions and key union leaders, support for the community assembly at Webb Dock is growing.

At the annual Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC) President’s Night on December 12, a solidarity motion with the community assembly was carried unanimously. The 100-strong gathering also agreed to mobilise the community on New Year’s Day 2018.

A rally organised by Australians for a Free West Papua in support of West Papuan independence was held outside the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin on January 31.

Maritime Union of Australia NT secretary Thomas Mayor pledged the MUA’s help to grow the campaign for a Free West Papua. The rally burned a copy of the Lombok Treaty.

The West Papuan struggle continues to gain momentum as the facts about the West Papua struggle become known via social media.

About 300 unionists rallied on January 27 outside the Melbourne Liberal Party headquarters to demand an investigation into Alcoa's actions after the American-based company forcibly replaced Australian seafarers with foreign workers. A simultaneous rally in Sydney attracted about 100 workers.
Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports terminals in Sydney and Brisbane are "back in the gate now," and "normal work is proceeding" Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch assistant secretary Joe Deakin told Green Left Weekly on January 20. Settlement of the long-running dispute which began on August 6 last year was finally achieved in December.
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members at Patrick Stevedores terminals struck for 24 hours on January 18 at the ports of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle to demand job security and an improved enterprise agreement. The strike followed the imposition of work bans at the Port Botany site in Sydney from January 4.
Five crew members aboard Alcoa ship the MV Portland were woken at 1am on January 13 by up to 30 security guards, handed their passports and forcibly removed from the vessel. The guards then escorted aboard a replacement crew, believed to be foreign seafarers, who immediately began sailing the ship towards Singapore.
The 38 crew of the Victorian ship MV Portland docked in Portland, in south-west Victoria, have refused to sail the vessel to Singapore on a one-way journey. The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is demanding the Federal Government and aluminium producer Alcoa reverse a decision to sack the workers and allow a foreign-crewed ship take over its route between Western Australia and Victoria.

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