February 28 - March 4
8.00AM - 7.00PM Daily
Jupiters Hotel & Casino
Broadbeach 4218, QLD.
Dear Comrades, Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome to the Maritime Union of Australia’s 2016 Quadrennial National Conference, here on our beautiful Gold Coast.
The Quadrennial National Conference is the most important date on the union’s calendar as it gives us all an opportunity to come together to debate the state of the union and to develop policy to take the union and our labour movement forward. It’s the highest decision making forum within our union and many of the leading unions in Australia and across the world have joined us to continue to campaign and organise for our working rights and freedoms.
I have no doubt much of the discussion will be frank and progressive and that is welcomed and what we are about.
We continue to come under attack from the neo-conservative political and commercial elites seeking to distort and disfigure basic democratic freedoms and principles of fairness, equity and protection of all in our society regardless of wealth, health, or profession.
From business, to parts of the mainstream media and the Federal Government led by Malcolm Turnbull, these elites are mounting an aggressive, conspiratorial and negligent reshaping of Australian workers' basic rights.
The Abbott/Turnbull Government has declared war on unions with constant attempts to further erode worker protections and rights through new legislation and the revisiting of old legislation, like the ABCC.
The Trade Union Royal Commission was a farce, led by a former High Court judge who by all reasonable accounts should have recused himself for his close dealings with the Liberal Party.
Many of the corporations working in conjunction with the Turnbull Government are compromised by their poor governance, tax minimisation and avoidance, corporate negligence and, in some instances, illegal activity and gross exploitation of workers in this country and internationally.
But that is what we are up against.
Add to that automation, inappropriate or downright illegal use of visas, contracting out and general removal of our manufacturing base and the result is a sizeable threat to the union movement in this country and the way of life for our members and their families.
It is clear that the trade union movement needs to continue to restructure itself into effective organising and campaigning networks through mergers, affiliations, joint activities and resources and other clear manifestations of unity and solidarity in Australia and Internationally.
The attempt to destroy Australian maritime workers right to work in the shipping industry is of deep concern to all. The circumvention of cabotage rules and the Migration Act by Federal Departments and the replacing of Australian seafarers in coastal and offshore trades has accompanied the destruction of Australian manufacturing, heavy mining and other industry jobs.
The outrageous belittling and savaging by conservative agendas of this national contribution by trade unions is best responded to by continuing in the same vein of promoting workers’ rights in a way that secures national economic growth and productivity so that it is redistributed with equity, empathy and in our great tradition of a fair go for everyone.
Put simply, unions without an active membership and adequate resources will find it difficult to stand up for their members into the future. That’s why a well-resourced trade union of blue collar workers is vitally important.
Economies of scale dictate that the arrangements being debated at this conference would mean better representation for members and the capacity to work with the broader community for better pay and conditions, as well as a truly progressive Australia.
We can increase research and legal capacity to develop decent industry and social policy in this country, or we can leave it to the big end of town to dictate our values, incomes and the future of this nation: It is working men and women in Australia and workers across the world are often working for and being acted against by the same companies.
We need a substantial voice and capacity to influence and this can best be done by teaming up with unions with the capacity, history and determination to fight for workers' rights like the CFMEU in Australia and the Maritime International Federation and ITF in our region and the wider world.
MUA Here to Stay.
MUA National Secretary