MUA National Council - Day 1 Overview

Council opened on Monday 24 October with the election of a new MUA National President, Deputy President and two Vice Presidents.

Elected unopposed were:

Mick Carr (Queensland) - National President

Chris Cain (Western Australia) - National Deputy President

Garry Keane (Southern NSW) - National Vice President

Kevin Bracken (Victoria) - National Vice President

Pictured above with National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

Following the election, National Secretary Paddy Crumlin gave the opening address. Councillors were welcomed to National Council for 2011 and an overview of the union was given.

Key points touched upon by the National Secretary were:

  • Moving the union forward following the recent National elections, towards National Conference in February 2012
  • A willingness to embrace change, examine new and better ways of organizing and to grow the union into the future
  • Since the last Council, the union has experience growth and change, particularly through the hiring of new staff in both branches and nationally. These staff have been employed in the areas of organizing, communications, campaigns and legal/industrial and are assisting the union to develop greater capacity in these areas
  • The union remains strong and growing - particularly in areas that are seeing mining and LNG exploration
  • The union continues its international work and focus, particularly through the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF). At the Mexico City Congress (held October 2010) the National Secretary was elected President of the ITF.
  • Holding the Presidency of the ITF allows the MUA to work with other unions internationally to progress the work agenda of the ITF. The vision for the ITF is for a progressive, campaigning international union federation that works in solidarity around the globe. Holding the Presidency allows the union to form deeper and more meaningful connections with other unions, and to work with them for a stronger, campaigning ITF.
  • Importantly, holding the Presidency allows the MUA to help shape the ITF into a more future-driven, campaigning, active ITF into the future. The MUA looks forward to continuing its international work and agenda.

Women's Report

National Councillor and Women's Liaison Officer Mich-Elle Myers gave the women's report.  The union's proportion of women remains relatively steady at 5%.

A new women's committee has been elected and meets by teleconference every two months. The women's conference will be held prior to the Naitonal Conference in February 2012.

One of the main issues facing women in the industry and union is the difficulty of obtaining employment in the first place, despite being qualified.  The union needs to work to address this, particularly through clauses in EBAs and discussions with employers.

Maternity leave provisions and family-friendly flexibility are also issues that need addressing, particularly as women can be very geographically isolated in the maritime industries. Mich-Elle raised the issue of a template clause in EBAs to address these issues.

Bullying and harassment remains a major issue for women in the industry, including small behaviours that may not be considered as such, including the displaying of posters or jokes in the workplace.  The union resolved to continue to work with members to create workplaces that are not only female friendly, but respectful of all workers.

A domestic violence clause in EBAs is also being worked upon, which is applicable to both women and men experiencing domestic violence.  This acknowledges that if a person experiences domestic violence they have specific out-of-work needs, such as legal and medical appointments.

Northern NSW Branch Report

Branch Secreatary Glen Williams reported on the NNSW Branch, and highlighted that as there was new leadership in the branch that a new plan for the forward direction of the branch had been formulated.

The NNSW Branch remains and active, progressive branch - running campaigns around NCIG, Newcastle Ferries, the Mayfield Expansion and the Pit to Port Alliance.

NNSW Branch has assisted in developing a pilot project for maritime workers to get assistance in counseling, mental health issues and drug/alcohol dependence by supporting the Hunterlink Support Service.

The Newcastle Seafarers' Centre Board has been formed with the Board approving a constitution that details the direction that they wish to take. The MUA is represented on the Board by Dean Summers.

NNSW Branch is particularly proud of its active Youth Committee, which meets monthly.  It has held film nights, campaign actions and social events and continue to grow in strength.

A NNSW Branch Conference will be held in conjunction with the AGM in November.

Tasmanian Branch Report

Jason Campbell, Branch Secretary, reported a growth in membership despite job losses in stevedoring, tugs, port authorities and the TT Line call center. Financiality has also increased in the branch.

Tasmania has the highest percentage of female members of any branch, at approximately 17%.  There are many members who have been members for a short period of time, and often at the end of their working lives - this is due to the high casualisation in the state and many people having second jobs.

The branch is facing challenges around forward planning and organising, due to the large amount of EB agreements and worksites that have to be serviced by the one paid Official.

Agreements are progressing well, and it is hoped that all agreements in the state will be finalised this year.

A branch conference will be held later in the year, which will assist the branch to develop a branch political strategy and revitalize womens' and youth committees.

Northern Territory Branch Report

Thomas Mayor, NT Organiser, reported on the NT Branch.  There has been growth and change in the NT, and preparations for the expected growth of the ports and industries in the state.

A growth rate of 40% for the branch was reported.

Recent activities by the branch has shown that pearl diving can be organized - unfortunately this industry has collapsed but previous activity has shown that this is a union opportunity.

Strategically, the branch is building up its Indigenous Relations with regards to a Social Compact (modeled on the North QLD Compact). Members have been involved in indigenous events and there is an indigenous committee.  MUA-crewed barges also supply indigenous communities so opportunities exist for training and support into the future - particularly for the coastal communities to do their own stevedoring on some of the islands.

Politically, the branch is involved with committees within the ALP and with Unions NT and has a good relationship with both organisations. There is also potential to get a position on the Darwin Port Corporation Board.

Victorian Branch Report

Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken opened the Victorian report by reporting on POAGS which is currently taking industrial action in Melbourne around EBA negotiations.  Members are standing strong on site, and taking strong action.

The branch has had consistent growth in the state.

The future of Web Dock remains a concern, as there are ongoing rumours that the Premier may privatise the port.  Reports in the press have indicated that Western Port may be expanded and developed.  The branch believes that other corporatisations may occur in the state under the Liberal Government - for example, the Port of Melbourne may be sold.

An EOI has been put out to move the car trade (bulk and general) to Geelong.  This would be an issue as the existing roads connecting to the terminal are already over capacity.

As a more cultural issue, the branch is lobbying for a rename of Prince's Pier to better reflect the history of the area.

Mining and Maritime Conference

Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman reported that the 4th M and M conference was held recently in Durban, South Africa.

M&M began in the early 2000s in Newcastle, Australia - organising between ITF, ICEM and IMF: organizing 'from the pit to the port.'

Mick Doleman reported on the positive, newly activised relationship between the ITF and ICEM through campaigning initiatives such as M and M: for example, fast solidarity activity can be organized between M&M unions.

A highlight of the conference included the report from the Groupo Mexico unions, who reported on a Government-sanctioned bulldozing of a mine with workers still inside. Many Mexican union leaders are still exhiled or imprisoned.

White Ribbon activities were also reported upon at the conference, highlighting the importance of the work that the MUA does in this field.

Mick Doleman reported that the Australian rank-and-file delegates were outstanding representatives of the MUA and gained a lot from their experiences.

Tas Bull International Aid Committee

Councillor Trevor Munday reported on the action of the TBIAC. The Committee has revitalized and the executive has been meeting.

The yearly raffle will not be held, but a silent auction will be held at the National Conference.

The delegation went back to Capetown to visit some of the projects funded in the past through the Committee.  Delegates found the experience very moving, and many are now getting more involved in the committee's activity.

The continued involvement of the rank and file remains a priority of the committee.

Maritime Security Report

ITF Australia Coordinator Dean Summers reported that maritime and transport security remains on the agenda. The union has been playing a role in the development of maritime security regulations.

The MUA continues to engage with Government and Industry around the issue of transport security - including MSIC cards.  The union has negotiated many times around security regulation and continues to do so.

A joint parliamentary committee has been formed on the MSIC card and its ability to work for counter terrorism and crime fighting - something the card was never intended to be for upon its original inception.

The union has successfully articulated the need for MSIC to be a  'right to work' card.

Dean recommended that the union re-engage with Port security committees to ensure security is working for members and not against them.