The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has rejected an "arbitrary deadline" of April 15 for acceptance of Patrick Stevedores' "final offer" on a new enterprise agreement (EA) for its waterfront workforce. Patrick set a 36-hour deadline on April 14 for the MUA to accept the new enterprise agreement or the company would consider taking "penalty action" against workers in Sydney, Fremantle, Melbourne and Brisbane, which reportedly includes a lock-out.
Maritime Union of Australia
British Fidelity, the last Australian-crewed oil tanker serving the Australian coast, has been removed from service by petroleum giant BP. British Fidelity had transported petroleum from Kwinana in South Australia to Devenport and Hobart in Tasmania. The crew received a letter from the ship manager, ASP, stating that BP had terminated the contract for the British Fidelity. This came after the crew had raised objections to sailing to Singapore.
Several hundred residents of inner-city Millers Point public housing and supporters marched from the Kent Street Fire Station to the Village Green in Argyle Place on March 19 to protest against the ongoing sell-off of their homes by the state government. Unions, including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), were well represented in the march.
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 Victorian Labor government's decision to privatise Melbourne Port, the last significant public asset in the state, through a 50-year lease has drawn little public opposition. One reason is that the port is out of sight to most people in Victoria. Another is that the government has tried to soften opposition by offering to remove between 50 and 100 level crossings through the proceeds of the sale.
“We're all very happy and proud of our efforts in this dispute: 106 days ago we didn't have a job and now we are going back inside,” a waterfront worker at the Hutchison Port Botany community assembly told Green Left Weekly on November 19. He was commenting on the settlement agreed between Hutchison management and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to bring to an end conclusion the long-running industrial battle over the jobs of 97 workers sacked by text and email on the night of August 6.
Workers at the Hutchison Ports community assembly at Port Botany, Sydney, are holding strong and are keen to settle the long-running dispute with management. The dispute began on August 6 following the sacking of 97 waterside workers by Hutchison at their Port Botany and Brisbane terminals. Since them, the community assembly has held strong for nine weeks as talks continue between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and management.
What do working people in a country like Australia need with trade unions or legal protections when employers in this country are so thoughtful as to email their workers at midnight to tell them they were sacked, as Hutchison Ports kindly did on August 6 to nearly 100 port workers in Sydney and Brisbane?
Photo: Peter Boyle Waterside workers and supporters rallied outside the Port Botany and Port Brisbane terminals of Hutchison Ports on August 7 in protest at the sudden sacking of 97 employees—57 in Sydney and 40 in Brisbane—the previous night. “Solidarity is the strongest force in the union movement. We will fight this till we win”, Sydney Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) branch secretary Paul McAleer told those assembled.
The union movement’s opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has ratcheted up since the agreement was signed in Canberra on June 17. ChAFTA allows for 95% of Australian exports to China to be tariff free. These will include many agricultural products, including beef and dairy. In addition, there will be liberalisation of market access for the Australia's services sector, and investments by private companies from China under A$1.078 billion will not be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval.