Wharf picket victory in Melbourne
South News April 10

Melbourne:  300 unionists sucessfully blocked a long fully-loaded goods train from entering the Patrick facility on Appleton Dock on Friday.

Wharfies, families and friends linked arms and physically blocked railtracks running onto the dock. After several hours of a stalemate and the train driver backed up the locomotive and left to wild cheering of the demonstrators.

MUA organiser John Higgins thanked those picketing the Melbourne docks saying they need all the support they can get. Victorian teachers and union officials swelled today numbers.

Wharfies in Melbourne say they are heartened by support from the Victorian union movement.
The Victorian Trades Hall Council says it is considering breaking Federal laws to mount a State-wide strike next month is support of the waterside workers.

Melbourne's waterfront is emerging as the focus of threats by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to take action against Patrick Stevedores. The ITF has been refused access to inspect the Contship London, following the sacking of Patrick Stevedores' 2,100 unionised workers.

An inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation says he has been unable to check safety and conditions aboard two vessels which are at East Swanson Dock.

ITF representative, Matt Purcell, says the refusal to allow a union inspection could affect shipping worldwide. "They can load what they like but it will just rot into the bottom of the sea," he said.

Matt Purcell said it is the first time this has happened in Australia. Mr Purcell said he was concerned even the sailors are suffering because of the dispute unalable to get shore leave.
 

Meanwhile, the biggest trade union in Holland has called on the biggest shipping company in Rotterdam not to use Patrick's terminals in Australia. The union, FNV, says the sacking of Patrick's workforce is an attack on the trade union movement in general.

It has called upon P&O Nedlloyd, the Rotterdam-based shippping company, to divert its ships from Patrick terminals. Wouter Waleson, a member of the executive board of the Netherlands' main trade union has written to the shipping firm P&O Nedlloyd in Rotterdam asking it not to use Patrick terminals in Australia.

FNV says it intends to inform dock workers in Rotterdam and Amsterdam of the events in Australia, and will discuss possible solidarity action against ships handled by Patrick from now on. FNV Bondgenoten is the Netherlands' biggest trade union, with coverage of dockers as well as workers in other industries
 
In Fremantle the MV Singapore, the first ship to be unloaded in Australia using non-union labour sailed in the early hours fom the West Australian port. But MUA West Australian state secretary Terry Buck said the Singapore left four hours after its scheduled departure time and without a full cargo.

"Our information is that between 18 and 28 containers supposed to be loaded on to the ship were left on the wharf," Buck said.

He claiming the non-union workers at Fremantle over the past two days have lifted four containers an hour, while MUA members move 24 to 30 containers in an hour.

The International Transport Federation (ITF) of unions was reported Friday to have received an undertaking from the Singapore's owners, the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), not to use Patrick's facilities again.

Transport Federation spokeswoman Sarah Finke understood a "tentative agreement" had been reached with Geneva based company.

The ITF said its powerful affiliates, the US-based International Longshore Workers' Union (ILWA), and the Netherlands' biggest union, FNV Bondgenoten, were mobilising against ships using Patrick docks.

Lloyds List, the daily newspaper of the shipping industry, warned in London that the power of the International Transport Federation was a "major worry for shipowners who use Patrick".

It referred to the recent success of an ILWA boycott against the Neptune Jade containership and warned that "the American trades in particular may be in jeopardy" from the Australian dispute.

The government has vowed to press on and has hired top London lawyers to act against any bans imposed by the ITF. But a Queensland academic warned the international community was watching the Federal Government's  handling of the waterfront dispute.

The head of the School of Industrial Relations at Griffith University, Louise Thornthwaite, says the battle on the waterfront has become more about union bashing than improving productivity. She says the international community may view the Federal Government as fanning the fires of unrest and puting industry before the people.

"I think it is in danger of that, but it's only the interests of parts of industry, it's not the interests of all of industry," she said. "There are very diverse interests and there are many, small and large businesses, that are not particularly interested in huge struggles to eradicate unionism."

In Sydney Maritime Union of Australia national secretary John Coombs has challenged the Prime Minister to call an election now to let the public judge the Government's actions in allowing the mass sacking of workers.

"Let's forget about whatever other agenda he's got for his double-dissolution. Let him run an agenda, let him run an election on the basis of mass sacking of waterside workers," he said.

Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate an incident at Patrick Stevedores' Darling Harbour terminal in Sydney overnight in which several people were injured. Unionists and TV camera men where treated by ambulance officers after being sprayed with mace by security guards at a perimeter fence.

He has also described an incident this morning at the Sydney docks as an act of pure provocation.

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