The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is celebrating the release of a National Stevedoring Code of Practice (NSCOP) after a seven-year battle to improve safety standards on the waterfront.
Safe Work Australia released the document on their website with little fanfare, a surprising approach given the years of work that have gone into developing NSCOP.
The MUA had engaged in an intensive lobbying effort over many years, in the face of opposition from well-resourced stevedores, peak bodies such as the Australian Logistics Council and Shipping Australia and their cheerleaders in the Federal Government.
Watch this video on the campaign:
“Today is a day worthy of celebration after a long-running campaign for a National Stevedoring Code of Practice,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.
“Many people have been involved in getting NSCOP to this point, in particular MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith but as Warren has said, safety is won on the job and we must continue to organise to keep winning even better safety laws."
The Code of Practice provides advice on managing risks associated with stevedoring and applies to all workplaces where stevedoring operations are carried out.
Activities covered include the loading and unloading of vessel cargo, stacking and storing on the wharf, as well as receiving and delivery of cargo within a terminal or facility.
“Importantly, codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings and NSCOP will now become the industry standard on hazard and workplace risk,” Mr Crumlin said.
Mr Smith said stevedoring is one of Australia's most dangerous industries and the changes were long overdue.
"Waterside workers are 14 times more likely to be killed at work than average,” Mr Smith said.
"Too many people have been hurt and too many families have had to suffer.
"We dedicate this win to the memory of all the MUA members who have been tragically killed or injured on the waterfront."
Matt Goodwin, former safety officer for the MUA and now with the ITF, said the years of campaigning had paid off.
"Finally, after years of campaigning, against massive resistance, the National Stevedoring Code of Practice has come into effect,” Mr Goodwin said.
"The new code will establish for the first time national minimum standards of safe work across the industry, it can be used in evidence in prosecutions and most importantly, it can be used by delegates and members every day to resolve disputes and improve safety practices on the job.
"The code was blocked for a long time after the change of government in 2013, along with twelve other life-saving codes.
"This win is a credit to each and every member who has supported the campaign.”
Watch this brave video from the daughter of one of our fallen comrades: