The Maritime Union of Australia Victoria branch stands in solidarity with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australian Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union in their bid to secure local steel on the East West Link.
MUA Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken spoke at the rally held at the Webb Dock site, where more than 200 workers turned out calling on the Victorian Government to ensure local steel is used in the contentious billion dollar road project.
"We are here because we support a manufacturing industry," Bracken said.
"When an industry shuts down it is not just the people that work at that factory but the many other people and businesses that support it that lose employment. When the Number two Blast Furnace shut down in Port Kembla we lost the Iron Monarch and the wharf work at Westernport. We lost the Lindsay Clarke because this week Point Henry Smelter shut down.”
"Up until 1997 we had 16 BHP ships purpose built and Australian manned to carry steel and the raw materials to make it around our coast. Despite having more iron ore and coal - the basic ingredients of steel - than almost any other country we currently only have two blast furnaces in operation. If we continue at this rate we will be the only developed country without a steel industry.”
"The fact that all the steel used in the Webb Dock redevelopment is coming from Korea is further proof that this Federal government is doing all it can to destroy decent jobs in this country. After the wiping out of out car manufacturing industry only six months into office, they have set about the destruction of our Aluminium and Steel industries.”
"The jobs they cannot take away they are doing all they can to take away the conditions of the people working in them. As part of this redevelopment; Patrick, the Port and State and Federal Governments have overseen a massive casualisation of people working on the wharf here at Webb Dock. Now, 78% of people working here will not know until 4pm if they will be working the next day and if they never get a phone call that could be the end of their working life.”
"We must get rid of this disgraceful State and Federal government and we must hold the governments accountable to the people they are elected to represent.
Local steel fabricators missed out on the contract for the $1.6 billion Port Capacity Project expansion at Webb Dock, an area the MUA has a keen interest in, hence the reason for the rally location.”
Bracken asked whether any Australian would benefit from the supposedly amazing project would produce any benefit for Australians.
"The only winner I know of so far is the already successful and profitable Patrick Stevedores who pocketed a cool$18.5m in relocation compensation at the same time workers were sacked," he said