San Francisco: Seven American union workers have been arrested after blocking the entrance to the Australian Consulate in a protest against the sacking of the wharfies in Australia.
The San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is the latest international organisation to support the sacked workers from Patrick stevedores in Australia. A delegation from the ILWU met with a consulate representative in San Franciso, and delivered a demand for the Australian wharfies to be re-instated.
The American unionists then blockaded the front door of the consulate before the police were called.The arrested unionists, including the ILWU president Brian McWilliam, have been charged with trespassing. Mr Price says further industrial action in support of the Australian workers is expected.
In a dramatic move on April 7, anti-union employers Patrick Stevedores announced that they were sacking their entire Australian waterfront workforce of 2100 workers after negotiations over new working practices broke down.
The Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, representing 206 organisations in 141 nations, has called on its affiliates to protest to the Australian government over Patrick stevedores' sacking of 14-hundred dockers.
Its appeal follows moves by the International Transport Workers' Federation to mobilise its worldwide membership to delay and blackban ships which use Patrick port facilities.
"Shipping lines should be aware that if their ships use Patrick in the future they will be targeted in ports around the world," said Kees Marges, the London-based ITF dockers section secretary, and the global support organiser for the Maritime Union of Australia. f shipping lines did not guarantee they had avoided Patrick terminals, they would be placed on the "black list".
Mr Marges' sentiments were echoed in Tokyo, with Shigeru Wada, Asia-Pacific
regional secretary of the ITF, asking Japan's Port and Warehouse Workers
Union to act against "chosen targets".
Patrick Stevedores announced on Tuesday night it was sacking its entire workforce, and bringing in non-union labour to replace it.
Patrick had declared war on the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), locking out its workers at 17 docks nationwide and bringing in nonunion replacements guarded by attack dogs. Armed with batons, the guards ordered workers off the docks or face arrest on trespassing charges
In Mebourne just before 11pm on Tuesday, a worker at P&O Australia looked across the no-man's-land to Patrick stevedores - and saw something like a SAS training exercise.Three small boats were landing at the Patrick's site at Melbourne's East Swanson Dock. About a dozen men jumped from each and ran to precise positions.
They were dressed in black and wore nothing to identify themselves. They took up positions in doorways, at the base of stairs and access points for the giant cranes and other equipment. At the same time a fleet of mini-buses pulled up and security guards streamed through the gate with attack dogs.
In less than 10 minutes about 100 security guards occupied the site. Suddenly, it looked more like a commando training ground than a civilian container terminal. One union member was bitten by a rottweiler
But the Federal Court in Melbourne ruled the sackings cannot go ahead, at least until a second hearing next Wednesday. Under the injunction, the administrators appointed by Patrick, must not dismiss any employees, must not divulge any assets, and must not employ any others to do stevedoring work.
The ICFTU is calling for international solidarity from unions worldwide and is alerting its Human and Trade Union Rights Committee to the situation.
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