This site is no longer updated, some external links may no longer work. It is retained as a history of one of the most important Industrial disputes in Australia's recent history.
Takver - September 1999

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26 October 1998


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Takver's Initiatives. P.O. Box 1078, Brunswick M.D.C, Victoria, 3056, Australia
Selected as the Labour Website of the week (9 April 1998)
Leftist and "Progressive" Web Site of the Week: April 19 - April 25 1998
Picture: Wildcat
Latest News: 'Ever Gloria' held up in Oz

War on the wharfies...
War on the Waterfront
- a full analysis of the dispute from a rank and file class perspective. Written by Tom Bramble on behalf of the Brisbane Defend Our Unions Committee. (17,000 words) (26 Oct 1998)

Solidarity with Neptune Jade Defendants (California) - Report on July 22nd Neptune Jade Demonstration (26 July 1998)


Francais - Australie - 1400 dockers licenciés (Le Monde Libertaire)
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An International Call to Support the Australian Wharfies! - I.W.W.
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Labourstart This is an excellent site for unionists to select as a Home Page with daily updates and links to news of labour struggles around the world.

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News Summaries

My Sitemap provides a complete listing of all summary links.


News Summary - Tuesday 20 October

'Ever Gloria' Safety Concerns

The "Ever Gloria" finally arrived in Australia. The ship's location has been a mystery for some time. After turning to, the Australian longshoremen at Kwinana came across a number of safety concerns and have withdrawn all labor.

MUA branch secretary Terry Buck was called to the ship. The crew (Filipino and Turkish) told him there had been an outbreak of salmonella on board so the labour walked off the job. After it was cleared there were a few other problems,... all up a 2 day delay. The ship finally sailed to Durban South AFrica on Oct 3.

Source: The Waterfront Worker Vol 1 No. 19, Takver
San Francisco September 30, 1998


News Summary - Wednesday 16 September

P&O Nedlloyd to sack 300 British and 30 New Zealand mariners

P&O Nedlloyd has moved to sack 300 British and 30 New Zealand mariners on their ships represented by the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers. They will be replaced by third world, low-paid, slave laboring sailors. This is the plight seaferers face all over the world. Replacing well-paid, national-flag seamen with slave-labor crews is standard practice with shipowners.

The Sailor's Union of the Pacific, based on the west coast of North America, has condemned this action:

    The Sailors' Union of the Pacific condemns P&O Nedlloyd's decision to replace organized crews with Flag Of Convenience sailors. We, with similar experience, are opposed to the use of slave-labor to boost the bottom line of any shipping corporation. These floating sweatshops, using flags of convenience and offshore corporations to slip through the protections of cabotage, labor, safety, and environmental law, are a hazard to coastal areas as well as to the men and women, often ill equipped for the job, who serve aboard them.

    Training, language difficulties, experience. These and many other reasons exist for the maritime community to desist from this destructive and dangerous practice. The SUP calls upon the Government of Great Britan to step in and protect the last remnants of the once-great British flag Merchant Navy. Further, the SUP pledges our support in whatever action the ITF and RMT deem appropriate. As the Mersey Dockers and the Maritime Union of Australia have shown, the world is our picketline!!

Source: Leftlink 15Sep98


News Summary - Sunday 6 September

Non-union loaded ship - "Ever Gloria" - headed for Australia

The next major assault on waterfront workers appears to be Canada. Local 518 is being pushed off the docks via contracting out to non-union outfits. Presently headed for Australia is the ship "Ever Gloria". It is the first "hot" cargo ship to come out of this dispute. The ship was held up for 24 hours in Portland (due to a job action) then loaded and allowed to sail. The "Ever Gloria" is a Panama registered bulker owned by First Steamship of Taiwan.

Thus far 28 ILWU members have been arrested for "illegal picketing".

Many North American dockworkers, unionists, and community activists campaigned in solidarity with the Maritime Union in the recent dispute. The community picket in Los Angeles was highly effective in preventing Australian scab loaded cargo being unloaded from the Columbus Canada. Now it is our turn to demonstrate our solidarity!

For more info see 20 Canadian waterfront workers arrested (26/08/98)

Source: Takver 6Sep98


ACCC settles legal action against MUA

South News, Thursday 3 September

Melbourne: The country's anti-monopoly watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has settled its legal action against the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), paving the way for a final settlement of the waterfront dispute.

The last hurdle for a settlement of the waterfront dispute was crossed yesterday, enabling more than 600 Patrick stevedores to take redundancy packages from Sunday. The ACCC and the Melbourne Ports Corporation refused to withdraw legal action for damages against the union which engaged in lengthy industrial action.

The ACCC, headed by Professor Allan Fels, initiated action under secondary boycott laws on behalf of many small companies hurt when cargo lay idle on the docks. The terms of agreement to settle legal action remain confidential, but the deal is expected to be ratified by the Industrial Relations Commission today. The IRC hearing that was due to formally register an agreement between the MUA and Patrick was postponed yesterday.

Final settlement would ensure that 626 out of the full-time Patrick workforce of 1,400 MUA members formally leave their jobs on Sunday, receiving redundancy payouts funded by the Federal Government.

Up to 100 of these workers would return to Patrick soon after as maintenance workers, resulting in a net loss of 500 full-time jobs. In April, Patrick Stevedores dismissed its union workforce of 1,400 but the wharfies were re-instated after the High Court upheld earlier court orders.

Patrick's workforce was reinstated after the Federal Court ruled there was an arguable case that Patrick and the government had illegally conspired against the workers. Mass community picket action in support of the wharfies played a significant role in the victory for the embattled union workers.

Source: South News 3Sep98

Patrick Stevedores has agreed to bankroll up to $7.5 million to a fund managed by the ACCC in compensation for businesses damaged during the waterfront dispute, as part of the settlement. The Melbourne Ports Corporation has also agreed to drop all litigation against the MUA, union officials and picketers. However, the union agreed to provide an enforceable undertaking that it would not breach for two years the boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act in relation to its supply of stevedoring to Patrick.

Justice North - the judge who issued the crucial injunction in April that forced Patrick to reinstate the sacked MUA members - said he hoped the Australian waterfront would remain "quiet, efficient and free of industrial disputation. ...I congratulate the parties upon resolution of a most difficult dispute in a way which appears to be creative and innovative".

Meanwhile, the political spin doctors are attempting to rewrite history by alledging it was never the intention of the Government or Patricks to smash the Maritime Union. Both Corrigan and Reith have recently publicly denied that this was their intention. The conspiracy may never be proved in a court of law, but the facts of the conspiracy are for all to read in this website, and its associated links.

The MUA and other unionists will be campaigning over the next few weeks in the Victorian seat of Flinders in an attempt to unseat Peter Reith, the Minister at the center of the conspiracy to smash the Maritime Union. Peter Reith holds the electorate by a margin of 10% - large but not insurmountable.

Source: Financial Review 5Sep98


News Summary - Sunday 30 August

20 Canadian waterfront workers arrested

Do Whatever It Takes To Help Our Canadian Brothers & Sisters Win This Fight!

(Vancouver, British Columbia) ILWU Local 518, Samplers and Testers is under attack. For the last 27 years sampling and testing work performed on sulfur ships was done by ILWU Local 518.

This all came to an end after Sultrans, a consortium of multi-national oil companies put the work out for bid. On Sunday , August 16 it was hello CertiSpec, a brand new non-union oufit, and good-bye ILWU. Last Tuesday (August 18), twelve, Local 518 members were arrested for "illegal" picketing. Yesterday (August 20) eight more went to jail. The union is demanding the work goes back to PKB Scania or SGS. Both are union companies that have traditionally done this work and have been in business for over 100 years.

Short of this the union demands CertiSpec signs a union contract. Neither looks likely in the near future.

Trials for the arrested unionists are scheduled for late October. All have been released on bail.

The union sees this as a "first strike" by the employer in an effort to oust the ILWU altogether. The sampling and testing work is essential to the sulfur trade. If it is not done, the cargo cannot be sold.

The Canadian longshore contract expires December 31, 1998. The employer is undoubtedly clearing the way to bring in non-union longshoremen at the end of the year. The Canadian Area ILWU has a number of future options planned (none of which they wish to reveal at this time) and the fight is on its way to going global.

The ITF is targeting all ship coming out of Canada involved in this dispute. The "Ever Gloria" is scheduled to leave Vancouver and call at the port of Longview (Oregon) to load potash. No actions are planned but it's a safe bet Longview longshoremen, along with the rest of the ILWU aren't going to take this lying down.

This is it brothers and sisters. The fight has gone from Liverpool and Australia to right next door! If you can't hear the war drums now YOUR DEAF! The employers don't give a damn about you, your family, how well you drive crane or anything else. They're out for blood in '99. It's the union that takes care of us. It always has and it aways will. AND WE ARE THE UNION! We need to realize this and prepare ourselves accordingly! Start saving some of your good union wages, attend your meetings and keep yourself informed about what is going on.


For Further Information From The Waterfront Worker Contact

Source: A-INFOS 26Aug98

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Last modified: October 26, 1998