National MUA Rallies Demand Business Groups End Campaign Against Waterfront Safety

The Maritime Union of Australia and thousands of its members around Australia will rally outside the offices of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and its affiliates to call on the business community to cease its campaign against waterfront safety reforms.

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ACCI has intervened in the development of the National Stevedoring Code of Practice (NSCOP), which seeks to create a uniform national set of safety guidelines for stevedoring. The NSCOP had its genesis in the spate of deaths that have occurred on the waterfront over the past ten years.

“Wharfies are fourteen times more likely to die at work than the average Australian worker,” MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said.

“The development of the Code of Practice has been underway for several years through a collaborative effort between Safe Work Australia, the state regulators, the MUA and industry representatives.

“However, the day after the death of wharfie Greg Fitzgibbon at Newcastle Port last year, the big stevedoring companies and the representative of foreign shippers, Shipping Australia, tried to bomb the code.

“To its credit, Safe Work Australia maintained the key protections in the code, but now ACCI has weighed in, delaying the code’s progress by making factually incorrect, misleading claims about the cost ofimplementation to industry.

“Any stevedore that is obeying current laws won’t experience any problems or additional costs implementing the Code of Practice. 

“Every worker deserves to come home from work alive and unhurt. It is disgraceful for ACCI to misrepresent any impact on a company’s bottom line when it comes to protecting the safety of workers.

“This nineteenth century way of viewing industrial relations is at odds with community standards and indeed international safety standards.

“The fact that we even need to be having this argument about the primacy of workers’ lives over profit in 2013 is an absolute disgrace.”