Human barricade turns back seige of Aussie dock
Melbourne: A human barricade, which included former Victorian premiers Joan Kirner and John Cain, ACTU secretary Bill Kelty, thwarted a planned dawn swoop Saturday by hundreds of police on the East Swanson Dock terminal gates of rogue stevedore Patrick.
The 3000 community picket had held the line dramatically, facing off 400 police in a military-style operation who found themselves outnumbered and surrounded when 1000 construction workers arrived at their backs.
At 5 am police converged on the dock on foot and horseback with a police helicopter circling above.Three thousand protesters locked arms and huddled together for an hour and a half chanting "MUA, here to stay," with searchlights from the helicopter shining into the crowd.
Although other gates were secured by police, no cargo moved and, at East Swanson, police retreated through a tunnel of bodies and a chorus of The Internationale. "It's another nail in the coffin of this dispute," Trades Hall secretary Leigh Hubbard said of the community success in keeping Patrick's wharfside operations isolated.
Later, a train attempted to get through the railhead at Appleton Dock just after 10 am, but protestors massed on to the tracks, heaping two-metre concrete blocks around themselves. The train-driver then "suddenly decided he wasn't feeling well, and called in sick," according to union organisers.
MUA waterside workers employed by stevedores P&O Ports and Strang, who are not involved in the national dispute with rogue stevedoring company Patrick, were also caught on the wrong side of the police lines when arriving for their shifts. In the confusion, these workers were held up for hours, further disrupting the movement of containers in the Melbourne port.
The conservative Australian government openly supports Patrick Stevedores, the nation's second largest container handling firm. It allowed Patrick to covertly train serving members of the Australian military in the United Arab Emirates as scab-labour late last year. The plot was aborted when it was uncovered and made public.
Patrick fired its entire Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) workforce the night of April 7. Patrick said the sackings were necessary to improve waterfront productivity, but the country's largest container firm, P&O Australia, is still operating under union labour.
In the Federal Court in Melbourne, a three-day hearing ended Friday night with a decision being reserved on whether Patrick Stevedores' waterfront workers will be reinstated. Justice Tony North extended an interim injunction preventing the 1,400 sackings until orders are granted.
More than 200 Australians, including prominent public figures, actors, and Aboriginal and church leaders, have written to the Prime Minister calling on him to intervene in the waterfront dispute.
ACTU president Jennie George, Hazel Hawke and Aboriginal activists Mick Dodson and Lois O'Donoghue, have signed the letter which says the Government should be trying to negotiate a solution to the crisis.
Meanwhile in Sydney, Christian leaders have held a rally in support of sacked waterside workers at the Darling Harbour picket-line. Baptist Church Minister, David Jones, says clergy across Australia see the attacks on wharfies as an attack on unions generally.
"We stand with the unions and we stand with those who have been displaced
because we believe this particular incident is one of great injustice,"
he said. "There is a need for reconciliation, a need to sit down and negotiate
together to bring about the reforms that many think are necessary."
protest at Melbourne dock
Maritime Union has earned support
By Bill Ethell
In 1982, I was arrested in Tahiti after my boat, the Pacific Peacemaker, was rammed by the French navy for going inside the 12-mile territorial limit of Mururoa Atoll.
According to well informed local sources I was certain to get a six-month term of imprisonment. However, I was able to stand in the dock and condemn the French government and all its supporters for continuing to explode nuclear weapons in the Pacific.
I did this with the confidence that the Maritime Union of Australia was supporting the protest. In Botany Bay the MUA banned the French container ship Kangerou, an action decisive in allowing our boat and crew, including my four children aged between three and 10, to continue our voyage.
It was the support of key labour movement figures such as the then ACTU president, Cliff Dolan, the then deputy premier of NSW and for a long time an executive member of the now CFMEU, Jack Ferguson, and the participation of a seafaring member of the MUA in our crew that stopped the police from arresting us in New Zealand when we supported Maoris at Waitangi.
It was the demonstrated support of the MUA that stopped us receiving
a substantial term of imprisonment when our Australian-registered vessel
became the flagship of an international maritime blockade the day George
Bush welcomed the first Trident submarine first strike weapons system into
its newly constructed Pacific base near Seattle.
Source: letter to editor Weekend Australian
Related Commentary: Making millions out wharf sackings
American labor backs Aussie dockers
The powerful American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organisations asked its 17 million members to boycott Australian farm products. In a separate development, an international campaign was launched to black-ban any ship or shipping line dealing with Patrick stevedores.
The second largest maritime union in the US, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), warned that a ban on the purchase of Australian imports was only the first phase of a campaign in support of the Australian wharfies.
It wanted all union members in America to stop buying Australian beef and produce. "We will not stand for this kind of activity," the ILWU president, Mr Brian McWilliams, said yesterday. He hinted that a boycott of ships from Australia is being considered as the next step in the union's campaign.
International solidarity continues to grow in other countres with "MUA, here to stay"-a chant heard around the world. It has been chanted by Japanese and Philippines dockers outside Australian embassies over the past 48 hours with union affiliates in Canada and Britain have also agreed not to handle cargo loaded by Patrick.
Japan's leading transport unions threatened to ban imports of Australian farm products, including beef.In their spring offensive Japanese dockers after a mass meeting on the evening 8 April,have included support for the MUA attended by MUA representatives and Shigi Wada, Asia-Pacific regional secretary of the ITF. The All-Japan Seamen's, union, AJSU, has also donated 1 million yen (US$770,000) to the MUA to assist the families of the sacked dockers.
The British High Court on April 17 lifted a temporary injunction against the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) preventing it from attempting to persuade shipping companies not to use Patrick Stevedores' non-union facilities in Australia.
Justice Thomas said he had not been convinced by evidence brought before him over the past two days that the temporary injunction, sought last Thursday by Patrick, should be continued. He said it was clear that the employment of non-union labour in Australia by Patrick had been carefully and systematically planned and there was an "inescapable inference" that legal action against the ITF had been "an important part of that strategic plan".
Referring to a famous legal ruling by Lord Diplock who pointed out that industrial action needed to be immediate to be effective, (strike while the iron is hot), Thomas took the view that the whole sacking exercise had been carefully planned in advance by Patrick which should have given the ITF proper notice of the injunction and it would be "palpably unjust" to continue to give Patrick the benefit of what was clearly intended as a pre-emptive strike.
"This is a great victory," said ITF General Secretary David Cockroft, "we are back in business, which of course means supporting the 2000 sacked MUA members and their families. ITF affiliates have pledged their solidarity with the MUA because this kind of union-busting is an attack on the fundamentals of freedom and democracy".
Iraq denounces new Butler provocation
Cairo: Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said on Saturday a new report by Richard Butler, on arms inspections in Iraq was unfounded and he would present the facts when visiting the United Nations next week ,which is due to review the seven-year old sanctions against Iraq on April 27.
Sahaf told reporters after a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid in Cairo that the latest report on the United Nations inspections was nothing new. He said Iraq refutes all that Mr Butler, in a key document before the 15-member Council, has been able to cram into the report, and will reply objectively to all the falsehoods.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf claims the report draws groundless, false and erroneous conclusions dictated by political motives. Sahaf said the teams formed after the Annan accord entered presidential sites and took samples from plants and dirt.
``The accusations proved to be false,'' he said. ``So now we are in a new stage, and the task ahead is speedy lifting of the sanctions on the people of Iraq.''
Iraq, saying its patience is running out after more than seven years of sanctions, on Thursday demanded that the United Nations lift them and warned there could be a new crisis if they dragged on.
In the US, Dr Kenneth Pollack, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a stinging attack on Iraq by Mr. Butler could lead the US to seek international support for a military strike. But Dr Pollack added that "the mood around town" was that no one wanted a confrontation with Iraq.
In Baghdad, the Iraqi Information Ministry on Saturday accused the U.N. inspectors of leaking information on commission work in Iraq, which it said was contrary to their U.N. mandate. The Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted a ministry spokesman as saying the leaks were part of an UNSCOM ``propaganda campaign.'' ``A spokesman for the Information Ministry condemned the Special Commission for not abiding by its obligations,'' it said.
The spokesman alleged that UNSCOM chief Butler had given his biannual report to a newspaper before presenting it to the U.N. secretary-general and accused his deputy, senior inspector Charles Duelfer, of leaking a report about a visit last month to a presidential site.
Australian diplomat Butler - in an exclusive interview with the Melbourne Age newspaper. - said he was frustrated and angry over Iraq's refusal to cooperate.
``They have had an opportunity in the past month since Annan's visit to offer a full and complete declaration of past bio-weapons programmes and where they stand now,'' Butler told Melbourne's the Age newspaper in a telephone interview. ``We gave them the opportunity and they blew it,'' he was quoted as saying in the report.
On Saturday Australia's conservative Defence Minister Ian McLachlan ,also following in the Pentagon's footsteps, agreed on the need to keep military pressure on Iraq. ``We both feel that there is a continuing reason for vigilance, continued reason for military pressure to make (Iraq President Saddam Hussein) do what he is bound to do under U.N. resolutions...,'' said McLachlan in a visit to Kuwait.
McLachlan said the main aim of his visit was to discuss the ``problem'' of dealing with Saddam, the future of the 1991 Gulf War coalition, and to visit Australian troops sent to Kuwait in February. Australia has 100 special forces in Kuwait and 60 personnel working with two aerial refuelling tankers which supply British and American warplanes operating in the region.
The Council is also to consider a separate report by the International
Atomic Energy Agency on the destruction of Iraq's nuclear weapons. The
latest report was generally positive.
Alert on UN Iraq sanctions review
United Nations: On April 15, former US attorney general Ramsey Clark sent a letter to all members of the Security Council demanding that they immediately lift the sanctions on Iraq.
But he warned on a special alert that a new US provocations and fabrications could be on the cards. On every previous Security Council review, the US has fabricated "new evidence" or provoked an "incident" in order to pressure the Council members into continuing the sanctions, he said.
The Security Council must acknowledge that its sanctions against Iraq violate the Genocide and Geneva Conventions. Those sanctions are made "... with intent to destroy... the national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such... [by]... deliberately inflicting... conditions of life calculated to bring about [its] physical destruction in whole or in part..." The Geneva Conventions prohibit "starvation of civilians as a means of warfare."
A death occurs in Iraq on the average every two to three minutes as a direct result of the sanctions. More than 1,500,000 human beings have died in Iraq, the vast majority infants, children and the elderly, since August 6, 1990, the 45th Anniversary of the bombing on Hiroshima when the sanctions were first voted by the Security Council.
To delay the end of sanctions for one day because of the "fear" of deputy chief inspector Charles Duefler reported today, arising from the claim that he was told by an Iraqi official that U.N. visits are not part of an "indefinite" process would trivialize the lives of the children of Iraq. See N.Y. Times, April 15, 1998, p. A9, attached.
Imposition of such sanctions against the people of Iraq cannot be justified by, or linked to any act, threatened act, or failure to act by the government of Iraq. The Security Council is bound by international law.
Even in a lawless world, no act, or threatened act by the government of Iraq, can compare rationally in sheer human horror with these sanctions to support their imposition. And in a merely intelligent but heartless world, it is senseless to think that such sanctions can prevent the very conduct falsely claimed to justify them.
The conduct of national leaders cannot be coerced by such foreign punishment of the general population as all experience with sanctions shows. The hope for effective foreign inspection of an entire nation is sheer folly.
It is essential to the honor of the United Nations and its support by the peoples of the world that these genocidal sanctions be ended now by your initiative. Without such leadership a fatal despair will follow from the authorship of this tragedy. If the organization created to end the scourge of war commits genocide, where will the people find peace?
I am enclosing a copy of a resolution of the elected City Council of the City of Detroit, Michigan, its governing legislative body, which was enacted yesterday. It urges an end to this "genocidal policy of sanctions." With a population of one million people, Detroit is the 10th largest city in the United States.
These sanctions are the greatest crime against humanity in the final decade of the most violent century of the millennium. This truth is emerging irresistibly despite the control and manipulation of the international media which ignores, or supports them.
The Security Council must recognize the truth before it is called to account.
Source: International Action
Center 39 W. 14th St., #206 New York, NY, 10011 Tel: 212-633-6646 Fax:
212-633-2889 e-mail:email@example.com Web Page: http://www.iacenter.org
Pan Am bombing relatives in Libya
Tripoli: Representatives of victims of a 1988 Pan Am jetliner bombing held talks in Libya on Saturday with the justice minister about a trial for two suspects in the attack.
James Swire, who represents families of Britons killed when Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, and victims' legal adviser Robert Black met Justice Minister Mohammed Belgasim al-Zuwiy after arriving in Tripoli. They discussed suggestions by Swire and Black "concerning reaching ... a fair and just trial of the two suspects in a neutral country,'' Libya's official news agency, JANA, reported.
Libyan officials have indicated they would compromise, allowing a trial before an international panel headed by a Scottish judge. Swire and Black drove 215 miles from Tunisia to the Libyan capital Saturday, Swire's spokesman, David Ben-Ariyeh, said in London.
Swire told Ben-Ariyeh he was grateful for the "efficient and warm welcome'' they received. Swire's daughter, Flora, was among 270 people killed in the disaster.
Swire met with Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid in Egypt on Wednesday to discuss changes to the proposal for an international panel. The meeting, the first British relatives have held with Abdel-Meguid, coincided with the 12th anniversary of U.S. air raids on the Libyan capital Tripoli and city of Benghazi.
Libya has agreed to hand over the suspects under similar conditions but Britain and the United States insist on a trial on their soil. Since 1992, the United Nations has imposed sanctions on Libya for failing to extradite the two men.
``It's now plain that the United States and the United Kingdom as far as I know are the only two nations in the civilised world which are not saying 'this is a sensible compromise solution, accept it','' Black said after meeting the head of the Cairo-based Arab League.
``What I am hoping is that the United Kingdom can see the error of its ways if it is given an opportunity marginally to save face. They have to find a solution. If this proposal does not work then I suspect that this may very well be the end of the line.
Black said the British government was under pressure to close the case and had been shamed by South African President Nelson Mandela's visit to Tripoli in October.
``The World Court and Mandela caused some tremors and although they
were not very big, we think they helped crack Britain's granite-like stance,''