Former failed merchant banker Chris Corrigan upped the stakes in the waterfront war by closing terminals in seven Australian regional ports under pressure of the banks. The Patrick's boss new caper follow defeats in the courts on Thursday. Clearly there is a lack of leadership at the top in this stevedoring business. The union response, this ANZAC day, needs to seize the matter and time in the digger spirit.
On April 7 Corrigan declared the four shell companies insolvent when it sacked the workers . To date voluntary administrator for the Patrick companies has been unable to get Corrigan to repay money to the labour hire companies stripped off assets and losses of A$56 million.
In the national interest, the MUA should now demonstrate how to run the wharves. A report by Drewry Stevedoring Consultants shows that productivity on the Australian waterfront is nudging international world benchmarks. As Corrigan is clearly unable to run Patrick it is time for the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to take over the show.
The current management of Patrick Stevedores seem unable or unwilling to fund a rescue package rescuing the jobs of the 2000 waterside workers sacked by the company.The banking syndicate, made up of the National Australia Bank, ANZ, Citibank, Societe Generale, Bank West, Colonial and Bankers Trust are reluctant to consent to the money flowing to the administrators on Patrick securities
If the union comes up with the seed money A$3.65 million (US$2.37 million) to restart, then it should also have control. It is a risk for the union to sail in uncharted waters. But in the ANZAC spirit it is a chance for new beginnings of labour cooperatives capitalised by union superannuation funds.
Patrick's parent company, Lang Corporation, advised the Australian Stock Exchange that it was suspending indefinitely operations in Adelaide, Port Kembla and Newcastle in NSW, Bell Bay and Burnie in Tasmania, Geraldton in Western Australia and Alma in Queensland.
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