Ever since it was elected, the Abbott Government has attacked the living standards of Australian Workers. Now, our safety on the job is under threat. The latest casualty is Marine Order 32 - the bible for wharfie safety. Meanwhile, the Government has blocked the National Stevedoring Code of Practice (NSCOP), along with 12 other lifesaving codes. It's time to fight back.
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1. AMSA have published a savagely amended draft of MO32.
2. Safe Work Australia (SWA) called a snap meeting of the Stevedoring TAG (the body which is developing the NSCOP) in Canberra.
3. MUA has vigorously opposed any dismantling of MO32. MUA’s position is that any provisions removed from MO32 must be preserved in the Stevedoring Code.
4. SWA has published an updated draft of the Stevedoring Code which includes new provisions previously found in MO32.
The MUA expects the Abbott Government will use its control of Safe Work Australia to push through the draft Stevedoring Code of Practice as ‘guidance material’, rather than a code of practice. MUA is strongly opposed to any downgrading of the Code to guidance material.
What are the main changes?
The big change is the removal of any provisions regarding the safety of shore-based workers. AMSA have also removed anything they deem ‘recommendatory’.
• Hatchman rules removed from MO32 and placed into the draft Stevedoring Code. The word ‘must’ replaced with ‘should'.
• The personnel cradle (work cage) provisions are gone. Existing requirements moved into the draft Stevedoring Code.
• Existing recommendations for lashing access have been removed.
• New 600mm requirement for passageways, which reflects the international standard in the ILO Code of Practice.
• Health and safety on the waterfront will fall purely within the state laws under the state regulator.
• On the upside, new content from the onshore Cranes Code of Practice was put into the Stevedoring Code.
Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said it was all part of the Abbott Government’s wider attack on the living standards of Australian workers.
“We have so-called independent regulators capitulating to every whim and wish of logistics companies,” Smith said.
“They’re being pressured by a Government that threatens them with budgetary cuts at every turn."
Smith said the MUA continues to oppose the downgrading of safety regulations and insisted the right of workers to go home in one piece should be enshrined in law. He called on all members to get involved in the MUA Safety Campaign.
1. Organise on the job: It has never been more important to ensure we have strong networks of trained HSRs and delegates on the job. We cannot rely on AMSA any more. It is up to us. We need to use all the rights and powers we have available under state WHS laws.
2. Get educated: Education is vital. We will need to adjust our approach. In the future, instead of AMSA issuing a notice, we will need to use PIN notices and other powers under state law. In 2015 the union will run training workshops for delegates and HSRs to refresh our strategies in light of the changes.
2. Bargain for safety: We need to get strong safety clauses in all EBAs – and enforce the rights we have already have.
3. Get involved in the political campaign: Our living standards are under attack. To change these bad policies we need to change the government. The Abbott Government is on the ropes.
As we saw in Victoria, people power makes a difference. Thousands of ordinary workers - nurses, teachers, firefighters alongside wharfies and seafarers - helped take the message out to the community.
Together we can make Abbott a one-term wonder. Volunteer here. Your help is urgently needed.