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(en)MUA: War on the wharfies 8 May update

From Takver <Takver@onaustralia.com.au>
Date Fri, 08 May 1998 21:55:35 +1000

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

News Summary - Friday 8 May
War on the Wharfies Homepage:

(8/5/98) Wharfies return to work around Australia
(8/5/98) The dirt from Dubai implicates P.M.
(8/5/98) Government under attack from International Unions

Recommended Websites:
Fremantle Community Picket
Find Peter's Heart! Web Game
News Summary - Friday 8 May
Wharfies return to work around Australia

Wharfies returned jubilantly to work at East Swanson Dock in
Melbourne on Thursday evening, thus ending the four week picket
of the Patrick terminal. Other ports which have returned to work
include Port Botany in Sydney, Webb Dock in Melbourne, and Burnie
and Bell Bay in Tasmania. About nine or ten thousand containers
are estimated to be stranded on the wharves, which will take a
week to clear. The Brisbane terminals are expected to resume full
operations mid-afternoon Friday; security issues are still to be
resolved in Perth and Townsville; and there is uncertainty
surrounding Patrick's future in Adelaide. Patrick says it will
not be reopening its Newcastle port and its Tasmanian operations
are only re-opening temporarily to meet existing contracts.

A move by Patrick yesterday to terminate its labour supply
agreements with the four companies in the group which employ
MUA members prompted the union to back down on its earlier
insistence that there would be no return to work until the
goon squads were removed.
(Source: ABC 8/5/98, Financial Review 8/5/98)

Sea-Land chief attacks Government over waterfront levy
Captain Andy Andrews, in charge of SeaLand which presently
operates in Adelaide and will soon open a container terminal
in Brisbane, has attacked the Governments $250 million
redundancy fund as being an inequitable subsidy for its
(Source: Financial Review 8/5/98)

The dirt from Dubai implicates P.M.
In a sworn affidavit Mike Wells of Fynwest Pty Ltd, one of the
organisers of the Dubai debacle to train serving and former army
officers as scab labour on the waterfront, claims a Government
adviser (Dr Stephen Webster) rang him about the exercise last
July. Mike Wells says Dr Stephen Webster, now an adviser to
Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith but then a Government
consultant on waterfront reform, told him he was doing a
"special job" for the Prime Minister.

Passports for the recruits were organised with the assistance
of the Prime Ministers Office. One wonders what the involvement
of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, was in all
this. Ian MacLachlan, the Defence Minister disclaims any knowledge
of serving military personnel being employed by a private company.
And our beloved Prime Minister has disclaimed all responsibility or
knowledge of the whole affair. Peter Reith belligerently stated:
"As far as Dubai is concerned, we didn't know about it but it
wasn't illegal and so what."

Either we have a pack of imbeciles leading our country who don't
know what their personal staffs are up to - which must be called
gross incompetence at the least, or they are all up to their necks
in the sewerage that is now being exposed for all to see. Either
way, these people smell bad. Nothing more than a Royal commission
with wide powers of investigation and access to all relevant
cabinet documents and "secret reports" will clear the air now.
If a full public enquiry is not initiated, the smell from this
affair will linger till long after the next election.

For full reports check out The Age online Dubai Special:
The Age: Howard linked to Dubai plan: claim
* The Age: "If I tell a blatant lie ... "
The Age: `Special job' claim is most damning entry
The Age: Ministers deny they knew of Dubai plan
The Age: The 158 pages that read like a spy thriller
The Age: Central role for adviser: affidavit
The Age: Patrick bankrolled Dubai: documents
The Age: `They shouldn't have goaded us'
* The Age: A strategy doomed from the start
The Age: PM's department helped to `ensure prompt issue'
The Age: The offers, the denial and an angry phone call
The Age: Michael Wells full affidavit
(See especially the asterisked articles)

Government under attack from International Unions
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has lodged a
complaint with the International Labour Organisation over the
Government's handling of the waterfront dispute, alleging nine
breaches of Australia's obligations under international labour

The allegations include:
* failure to protect workers against discrimination based on
trade union membership;
* failure to protect the MUA from its rights to be associated
with an international trade union organisation, the International
Transport Federation.
* allegations that the MUA was not allowed to engage in
"legitimate" secondary boycott actions allowed by international
treaties in certain strikes.
* issues of Patrick's corporate restructuring, picketing and
discrimination against MUA union members in the offering of
individual contracts.

Tim Noonan, from the ICFTU said "We see this as the most serious
attack on trade union rights that has happened in any OECD country
for some time. This is right at the top of our agenda and we know
that some governments are concerned about it."
This follows a previous criticism of the Governments Workplace
Relations Act by an ILO judicial committee.
(Source: Financial Review 8/5/98)

War on the Wharfies is an independent web page which
* News reports on the Maritime Union of Australia fight against
  the rightwing attack by the National Farmers Federation,
  waterfront bosses, and federal and state governments.
* News on other union actions and progressive campaigns, or the
  general attack on workers rights or conditions

         War on the Wharfies - essential links


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