MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith was in Melbourne this week, to address the ACTU organising conference on behalf of the safety of Australian maritime workers.
Speaking at the conference, Warren Smith, highlighted the MUA’s current waterfront safety campaign and the great work of delegates and HSRs to organise around safety.
“The fact is, wharfies are still 14 times more likely to die on the job than the average Australian worker,” Mr Smith said.
“The Maritime Union of Australia is determined change that.
“For more than seven years the union has been campaigning to achieve, for the first time, a national stevedoring code of practice. The code has the potential to boost safety in this dangerous industry. However, industry groups and employers are arguing the draft code is too prescriptive and too costly – claims which have been exposed as a myth."
“They are arguing for a reduction in safety protections in a dangerous sector.
“This is not just about stevedoring. Industry groups are not just lobbying against this code - they are lobbying against every Australian worker’s rights under safety legislation,” he added.
Mr Smith told the conference that the only way to succeed with safety is to organise and make safety issues collective issues.
“We refuse to fall into the trap of telling members that safety issues are not industrial issues. There is no more important industrial issue than your survival at work.
"Thanks to our waterfront safety campaign, we are better organised around safety than ever.
"We have established strong networks of trained HSR's in every stevedoring workplace. More than five hundred delegates have attended MUA training in the last 12 months alone. HSR's are using every right and power at their disposal to take up the fight for better safety.
"The fight is not only for NSCOP but for general safety rights across all industries as the Abbott Government shows, like the bosses, they are only for profits not safety of workers,” added Mr Smith.
Other speakers at the conference included SA branch secretary Jamie Newlyn, SA organiser Campbell Duignan and SA wharfie and branch stalwart Brett Larkin who spoke about organising around safety within the branch.
Mr Newlyn, Mr Duignan and Mr Larkin have all played a pivotal role in training hundreds of new delegates and health and safety representatives.
MUA South Australia has 87 HSRs - up from 16 at the start of 2013, a 550 per cent increase.
This organising effort has also seen a boost in membership numbers with South Australia boasting more than 1000 maritime workers for the first time since containerisation.
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