Brisbane: The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)is claiming a big victory after a New Zealand cargo ship refused to dock at Patrick's Fisherman Island wharf out of union solidarity.
The MUA says the cargo ship Union Rotama will return home, leaving behind hundreds of Patrick Containers prepared for New Zealand. But Patrick says the Union Rotama will be sub-contracted to another stevedoring company, and will be loaded further down the port.
Harry Edwards, a seaman onboard the Rotama, says the ship was given a direct order from the New Zealand Seafarers Union. "It'll be worldwide action anyway this, you know you've got to help in situations like this," Mr Edwards said.
"The company are keeping clear of this trouble, because if the ship goes in there it's likely not to get out again," he said. Mr Edwards says he expects more ships servicing Australian wharves to take a similar course of action.
In Melbourne, the MUA has been successful in turning away trucks at the Patrick terminal at East Swanson Dock. One truck arrived this morning, and after discussions between the driver and union officials, it reversed away from a protest line of 1000 people.The other 20 trucks failed to show.
About 300 protesters yesterday blocked rail tracks leading into Patrick's East Swanson Dock terminal. After a three-and-a-half-hour stand-off, the train, loaded with about 30 containers, withdrew.
After this week's Supreme Court injunction banning the sacking of Patrick's workers, the Maritime Union of Australia said its members were the only people legally entitled to work at the terminal.
The union's deputy state secretary, Mr John Higgins, said the MUA would use this argument to persuade anyone driving trains or trucks bound for Patrick's terminals to turn around and go away. "It'll be exactly the same as we did for the train. This peaceful assembly will be going 24 hours a day . . . if a train didn't go through us I'm sure a truck isn't going to," he said.
MUA employees at Strangs, a neighbouring stevedoring company at Appleton Dock are assisting the picket activity of their sacked colleagues at Patricks. One employee told South News that his boss hates Patrick's Corrigan and hopes to see him fail. Strangs had been negotiating to take over Webb Dock when the failed merchant banker came up with his anti union ploy.
In Sydney with the prospect of the waterfront dispute widening. The MUA chiefs are meeting members of the Institute of Marine and Power Engineers and the Maritime Officers Union. The talks are understood to be centring on how to deal with the arrival of the first Australian-crewed ship at a Patrick dock. The Endeavour is due in at Port Botany in Sydney early tomorrow morning.
The High Court in London ordered the International Transport Federation (ITF) not to campaign against Patrick, at least until Wednesday. But MUA spokesman Tony Papaconstoninous says a London High Court injunction against the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) is not a major setback.
"The ITF is registered and based in London and is bound by the industrial laws that apply in the UK, that may bound the ITF and its office but it has no bearing or binding of its affiliates that are located globally," he said.
The ITF had been negotiating with two shipping companies to persuade them not to use Patrick's facilities in Australia. The companies, Contship and the Mediterranean Shipping Company, have had ships berthed at Patrick facilities in Fremantle and Melbourne.
Mr Brown, a director of MSC (Australia), which acts as agent for the Swiss-based company,said MSC Geneva has chosen to bypass various ports affected by industrial action in order to continue to service its clients.
Other lines were closely monitoring developments yesterday and there is a growing expectation that they will follow suit. Senior representatives of the conference lines operating through Australia met yesterday to consider the situation on the waterfront.
In Western Australia, about 60 sacked waterfront workers maintained the union's picket line at Patrick Stevedore's docks at North Quay in Fremantle last night. MUA state secretary Terry Buck says the union will run a public campaign against the Government in the lead-up to the next federal election.
"Whatever, is required we're going to get out there," he said. "We're going to target marginal seats, we're going to make sure that every opportunity is provided for a destruction of this Government that's out there to destroy the working class people of Australia."
South Australia's waterfront workers will be ensuring that only union members unload vessels this weekend at Port Adelaide. A ship carrying fertiliser for the company, Hi-Fert, is expected to arrive at 3:00pm today. It will be unloaded by stevedoring company P&O, which Patrick has subcontracted its work to.
Yesterday, there were rumours that the contract may have been passed back to Patrick. But union member Barry Cronin says the ship's unloading will be closely monitored and if there is any indication of non-union labour, action will be taken. "It's a planned attack on us so it's nearly time we started to play a bit a bit dirty," he said. "We'll play their own game."
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