MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has been re-elected as ITF President for another five years at the ITF 44th Congress in Singapore.
Crumlin was also re-elected chair of the dockers section, while Mich-Elle Myers was re-elected to ITF Women’s committee and elected Vice-Chair of ITF Women’s committee and Danny Cain was re-elected to ITF Youth Committee.
“It is a great honour to continue to lead the ITF. Through this period of great change we will ensure that workers from our affiliate unions continue to fight from the front,” Crumlin said.
A strong MUA contingent made sure that important issues for our union were debated on the world stage - including the need to keep pressure on global stevedores including ICTSI and Hutchison, tougher industrial manslaughter laws and proper rights for LGBTQI workers.
VICT Declared Port of Convenience
The Victorian International Container Terminal at Melbourne’s Webb Dock was declared a Port of Convenience with unions now saying a fatal accident could be imminent following a number of serious safety-related incidents.
“It is a big step to declare a Port of Convenience but the VICT continues to ignore the entirely justified concerns of its workforce over their safety and shift arrangements,” Crumlin said.
The MUA has been campaigning against the Philippine-based multinational port operator ICTSI over the significant undercutting of rates, conditions and industry standards on the Australian waterfront; the shifting of automated port jobs to the Philippines and poor safety standards at the VICT terminal.
VICT is also currently facing legal action over the unlawful sacking of a union delegate and paying wages that undercut the legal minimum wages under the industry award.
The ITF has uncovered serious exploitation across ICTSI's global terminals with the company fast becoming one of the most controversial in the maritime industry.
“All maritime affiliates are now considering what lawful action may be required to give effect to the PoC campaign. Globally, ICTSI’s workers are underpaid and overworked, harassed and coerced, and union members often face intimidation in retaliation for raising workplace issues," Crumlin said.
“ICTSI has tried to bring its anti-worker business model, that they have run out all over the world, to Australia and we won’t tolerate it.”
MUA Deputy National Secretary Will Tracey said two workers at the VICT terminal were recently hospitalised, and the entire workforce is now fearing more serious accidents following the recent introduction of dramatically increased working hours.
“This workplace is unsafe, and threatens the standards that union activists over generations have built up. The transferring of automated jobs offshore is something the MUA will fight with all our resources and all the resources of the Australian trade union movement,” Tracey said.
“The MUA thanks the ITF and our brothers and sisters in the international trade union movement for their support in taking this step and declaring the VICT a Port of Convenience. Hopefully, this step can ramp up pressure on the company to intervene immediately before a worker is killed or seriously injured."
Industrial Manslaughter Motion Passed
WA Branch Secretary Chris Cain continued his "Kill A Worker, Go To Jail” campaign for bigger penalties for employers and companies that don’t offer adequate safety for their workforce.
"This resolution has been passed by the peak body in Australia - the ACTU - and has been passed by all of the Trades Hall Councils and Labour forums and our next stage is to move it globally,” Cain told Congress.
Cain told Congress a harrowing story from last year where a 23 year-old woman on her first day on the job was given no indiction and fell 13 storeys to her death.
“The rogue, rotten employer got a measly fine," Cain said.
“All workers should have the right to go to work and to come home safely to their loved ones.
"We started a campaign many years ago saying exactly that and we have had a fight on our hands since then but still people die on the job
"I call on the ITF family to support this resolution so that not only do employers go to jail but there are maximum fines of millions and millions of dollars for the first offence and that will deter them to make sure workers come home to their loved ones."