It’s time to step up the fight for a strong National Stevedoring Code of Practice.
Only one day after our comrade Greg Fitzgibbon, a 56-year old wharfie, was killed while working on board the Weaver Arrow in Newcastle, major stevedoring companies and Shipping Australia have made a last minute attempt to block the code and water down stevedoring safety standards.
This is an insulting slap in the face to wharfies and the families of those who have lost their lives in this dangerous industry that needs as much safety protections as possible. MUA Members have been shocked at the insensitivity of the timing. Safety standards on wharves need to be boosted, not bombed by what we see as greedy employers worried more about the bottom line than a worker’s life.
We must continue to apply pressure to improve safety until a new National Stevedoring Code of Practice is achieved. There are 6 things you can do right now to show these companies that safety matters.
The MUA and our members have spent years fiercely fighting for better safety standards in stevedoring. Safe Work Australia, the national regulator, have agreed that standards need to be improved through a National Stevedoring Code of Practice. Following submissions from more than 1100 MUA members, the first draft of the code looked positive and included key protections such as retaining the hatchman, a vital role that oversees workplace safety in stevedoring.
But now, major stevedoring employers – DP World, Asciano/Patrick, and QUBE – have joined together with the representatives of foreign shippers, Shipping Australia, to attack and reject a significant proportion of the content of the draft Code of Practice.
These employers have been meeting with the MUA for more than two years to develop the draft code, and have contributed little to raising standards. Only now, just days before a draft was to be agreed, employers have ripped up the draft code. This is nothing short of outrageous given the tragic fatality that occurred in Newcastle on Sunday night (23rd Sept) which demonstrates the need for better safety standards in stevedoring.
What the companies are arguing for:
- No general requirement for Hatchman/cargo space lookout
- A reduced role for Health and Safety Representatives
- Removing requirements to consult with workers and their representatives on health and safety issues
- Reducing thescope of stevedoring activities and attempting to split and divide unions by seeking inclusion of other unions into the code who don’t cover wharfies.
- Generally lower safety standards on the waterfront.
Employers say they are happy to support a Code of Practice. They support a Code of Practice but only if it is weak, meaningless and pointless. They frequently refer to costs of meeting safety standards but of course they ignore the fact that there is no way to measure the cost of someone’s life.
After a short campaign, Toll has withdrawn its participation in the industry group and requested its logo be removed from the document. We still have to fight to convince the other participants to abandon their appalling stance.
We will not rest until safety on the waterfront is secured for workers. The MUA is coordinating a broad-ranging activist campaign involving legal, political, workplace and communications strategies to fight this employers’ war on safety.
In the meantime, we must send a strong message to these companies that safety matters. Click HERE to download the MUA checklist 6 things you can do right now to push for better safety.
Take action in your workplace now to escalate the campaign.